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fXPERIENCE, temperament and policy all combined to make Hugh Bourne 
publisher and pressman. His character had been shaped and a new 
direction given to his life by the printed word. Though naturally taciturn 
and, like Moses, "not eloquent . . . but slow of speech and of a slow 
tongue," he was communicative through another medium than that of speech. All 
along he obeyed a pretty steady impulse to express himself in manuscript and type 
to externalise his own convictions and his impressions of the facts before him, as his 
life-long journalising, and his innumerable memoranda respecting past and current 
events clearly show. In all this he was the direct opposite of William Clowes, who 
was averse from the use of the pen. For him the inside of a printing-office had few 
attractions, yet, like Aaron, he was naturally eloquent, and could "speak well." 
Moreover, as a practical man, Hugh Bourne knew what power there was in the press 
as an instrument of propagandism ; and, as one of the founders and directors of a new 
denomination, he may have had the ambition to copy, in his own modest way, the 
example of John "Wesley whom he so much admired who was one of the most 
voluminous authors and extensive publishers of his own, or indeed of any, time. So 
Hugh Bourne's publications ranged from a somewhat bulky Ecclesiastical History to 
a four-page collection of " Family Receipts," which tells how to relieve a cow choked 
with a turnip, and how to provide a cheap and wholesome travelling dinner for fourpence. 
Whence, it will be seen, that the doings of Popes and Councils as well as the small 
details of domestic and personal economy, alike came within the purview of his printed 

These characteristics and habits may be seen at work in Hugh Bourne even before 
1811. In proof of this, note the printed account of the first camp meeting, hot from 
the press, that was scattered by thousands ; the " Rules for Holy Living " distributed 
on camp-grounds, and even slipped through the broken panes of Church windows ; his 



" Scripture Catechism," 1807 not half as well known as it deserves to be ; and his tract 
on "The Ministry of Women," 1808. Note, above all, in this introductory period, his 
adaptation of Lorenzo Dow's Hymn Book, 1809, of which, until 1823, edition after 
edition was published, being bought so eagerly, especially on new ground, that the 
revenue derived from its sale helped largely to sustain some of the new missions. 
Some of the provincial printers wide-awake men soon discovered the value of this 
little Hymn Book as a marketable commodity, and issued pirated editions, sometimes 
making trivial alterations, and then having the effrontery to put " Copyright secured " 
on the title-page. We ourselves have met with no less than eight such pirated editions 
issued before 1823, bearing the imprints of local presses at York (two), Leeds, Gains- 
borough, Selby, Burslem, Bingham, and Nottingham. 

After the establishment of the Connexion in 1811, Hugh Bourne pursued the same 
policy. Printed tickets superseded written ones. In 1814, the rules of the new 
denomination were carefully edited and published ; Sunday Schools were with much 
labour furnished with Bibles and reading-books, and other requisites ; Tract Societies 
were organised and equipped ; a large Hymn Book was compiled and published in 1812, 
but it met with little favour among the societies. It was too heavy to float, and it must 
be regarded as having been one of Hugh Bourne's publishing ventures that failed. The 
same fate befell the quarterly Magazine, projected and launched for a very short 
voyage in 1818. 

To all intents and purposes, there was an Editor and Book Steward before the offices 
were officially created and the officers appointed. If, at first, Hugh Bourne practically 

combined both offices in himself, it must not 
be overlooked that his brother James was 
always at his back ready to share his monetary 
responsibility ; and, to the honour of both, let 
it also be remembered that, though at their 
initiative the societies might authorise these 
early publishing ventures, the brothers did 
not appropriate any profits that might accrue, 
but surrendered them to the Connexion, while 
they took all the risks of loss. Thus, one 
thinks, it was a foregone conclusion that 
when the first Conference found it necessary 
to appoint an editor Hugh Bourne should be 
designated to the office, and receive instruc- 
tions to complete the suspended issue of 
the Magazine of 1819 which he did in the 
manner already described. But when at the 
next' Conference the question of appointing 
a Book Steward was mooted, the case was 
different ; there were evidently two opinions 
both as to the person to be appointed and as 
to the locale of the Book-Room already looming on the Connexional horizon. 



" 60. Q. Who shall be Book Steward ? 

A. If the Magazines are printed in Hull Circuit, E. Taylor. If in Tunstall 
Circuit, J. Bourne." 

If there were any rivalry between the two circuits for the honour of having the 
book-room within its borders as we strongly suspect there was it was soon ended in 
favour of Tunstall ; for, at the Conference of 1821, in answer to the question : "How 
shall the Book Concern be managed ? " it was resolved : 

" James Steele, James Bourne, Hugh Bourne, Charles John Abraham, and John 
Hancock, are elected as a Book Committee to manage the concerns for the ensuing 
year. These are to receive and examine all matters to be inserted in the Magazine, 
and all other matters which it may be necessary to print. H. Bourne is appointed 
Editor, and J. Bourne Book Steward ; and the Committee are at liberty to receive 
matter from W. O'Bryan, and to insert in the Magazine from time to time, such of 
it as they may think proper. The Committee are empowered to establish a General 
Book-Room, and a printing press for the use of the Connexion." 

This incidental reference to the founder of the Bible Christian Church is historically 
interesting ; and, with his usual acuteness, Hugh Bourne points out in the Magazine 
for 1821, the remarkable similarity between the two denominations as regards their 
practical recognition of the ministry of females. Referring to Joel's prophecy (ii. 28-29), 
he says : 

"In the latter part of the promise which respects daughters and handmaidens 
prophesying, or preaching, a remarkable coincidence has taken place in ou 
Connexion, and in the Connexion which arose in Cornwall. It is really surprising 
that the two Connexions, without any knowledge of each other, should each, nearly 
at the same time, be led in the same way, as it respects the ministry of women. 
Both Connexions employed women as exhorters, and as local and travelling 
preachers. When the two Connexions became acquainted with each other, and 
found so striking a similarity in their proceedings with regard to female preachers, 
it became a matter of desire to know by what steps each Connexion had been led 
into the measure. This produced a request on the subject, to which the following 
letter was sent as an answer, etc." 

But to return to the Book Committee. Hull had lost the Book-Room, and was to 
develop itself in its own splendid way, while Tunstall was, for some years to come, to 
become more and more the directive centre. Yet, though Hull acquiesced in the 
arrangement, its delegates, we are told, asked that, until the necessary printing plant 
had been acquired for the Connexion, the Magazines might be printed by " their 
own printer" at Hull probably J. Hutchinson. The Conference granted the 
request and hence, H. Bourne says: " he had to attend at Hull and bore his own expenses." 
But this arrangement certainly did not last long, for the last number of the 1821 
Magazine, at least, was printed at the Connexional printing-office at Bemersley : so that 
the work of printing the first two volumes of the Magazine was executed by five 
different printers, residing in as many different towns to wit : Leicester, Burslem, 
Derby, Hull, and Bemersley ! What is now the Aldersgate Primitive Methodist 
Magazine has had a long and, on the whole, a prosperous voyage, but at the outset the 
sea was choppy and unkindly, and the bark had its mishaps. 

A 2 


While the brothers Bourne are looking after the purchase of printing-presses and 
founts of type and a suitable place to put them in, we will just glance at the members 
of the Book Committee and its functions. As to the latter : Here, as everywhere, 
there has been ev.olution, so that it were indeed an error though one easily fallen 
into to suppose that our ecclesiastical courts must have been from the beginning just 
what they are now. At first the Book Committee was a General Committee as well ; 
and for a year or two, in conjunction with the General Committee at Hull, it had to 
give advice and counsel to the circuits, and send a deputation to settle matters when 
desired. The Conference Minutes of 1822 even go on to say : " If the two committees 
think that there is a providential opening, they shall institute, or take steps to institute, 


a missionary establishment for sending out missionaries in a general way." The mode 
of editing the Magazine prescribed was certainly a peculiar one. Communications were 
not to be addressed to the Editor personally, but to the Book Committee, which had to 
decide upon the suitability or otherwise of the contributions sent. Contributions from 
the circuits had also to receive the endorsement of their Circuit Committees ; so that 
the Magazine was to be both supplied with matter and edited by committees. As 
the contributions chiefly desired and expected were memoirs, preachers' Journals, and 
revival intelligence, this curious arrangement was evidently designed to prevent puffery 
and self-advertisement, and to secure authentic reports. These regulations were soon 
relaxed so far as contributors were concerned, but there is evidence to show that, 


throughout the Bemersley period, the Editor edited through his committee, and John 
Flesher found this out when he entered upon his new duties at Bemersley, which is 
a later story. In 1824, we read: "The Book Committee have now nothing to do 
with the general concerns of the Connexion." Further, it is to be noted of the Book 
Committee, that for many years it was also the Committee of Privileges ; small in the 
number of its members, and appointed separately from the other committees. In 1850 
the Committee of Privileges is the same as the General Committee, and in 1863 we 
have the significant statement : " The Book Committee shall be composed of the 
General Committee." This arrangement obtained until 1894, when again a special 
Book Committee was appointed. Though this chapter deals with the Bemersley Book- 
Boom period, we have thought it better, for the sake of gaining a connected view, to 
follow the Book Committee in its latest evolution. 

As to the personnel of the first Book Committee : John Hancock and C. J. Abraham 
are the only members of the Committee we are not already familiar with. Both were 
leading men in the Tunstall Circuit through the whole of this period, and the former 
especially, as the corresponding member of the General Committee, for many years 
wielded considerable influence. He was a member and an active one of the Book 
Committee until his death, which took place on January 2nd, 1843. Born in 1796, he 
was an engraver by trade, though later on in life he became largely interested in the 
manufacture of pottery. He is said to have been savingly enlightened by reading Thomas 
Aquinas, "The Angelic Doctor" probably a unique experience for a Primitive 
Methodist. He was converted in 1814, and joined the class of James Steele. The 
society at Pitt's Hill was his special sphere of labour, and after his death it was 
frequently remarked : " He was the first leader of Pitt's Hill, the first in raising the 
old chapel, he laid the first stone of the new chapel, preached the first sermon within 
its walls, and was the first whose mortal remains were interred in its burial-ground." * 

C. J. Abraham is already known to us as the druggist of Burslem who, probably 
about this time, became the husband of Ann Brownsword. The names of both stand 
on the Tunstall Plan, and Ann Abraham, especially, was much esteemed as a deeply 
pious and acceptable preacheress. C. J. Abraham, like J. Hancock, was, both locally 
and connexionally, a leading official throughout the whole of the Bemersley regime 
being an active member of the General as well as of the Book Committee. He was 
a trustee of the first Burslem Chapel in Navigation Road, as well as of Zoar Chapel, 
acquired in 1842, though it was not used by the Burslem Society until two years later. 
It was the trust responsibilities connected with these two properties which were the 
cause of so much anxiety to Hugh Bourne in his later years, when the affairs of his 
brother and of C. J. Abraham had become hopelessly involved. 

Bemersley Farm, the home of the Bournes, was the place selected for the first Book- 
Room. We would like to picture Bemersley as a whole, and Bemersley Farm in 
particular. We naturally feel an interest in a place which, for twenty years, was 
one of the foci we may even say the focal point of our connexional life ; the spot 
where the central wheel of management was set up. As though, then, we were one of 
those many pilgrims, who during those twenty years visited for the first time a spot they 

* "A Memoir of Mr. J. Hancock, of Tunstall," by Frederick Brown (Tunstall, 1843). 


had long heard of but had never seen, we approach it from a distance, and take in the 
general features of the landscape before we seek to gain a nearer and, if we can, an 
interior view of the Connexional Book Establishment. The description given by the 
local historian may help us to this general view of the hamlet of Bemersley and its 
surroundings ; for, although it is Bemersley as it was at the end of the eighteenth 
century he describes, its main features must, in 1822, have undergone little alteration. 

" Bemersley is about a mile north-west of 
Norton Church, and near three miles from 
Tunstall almost entirely moorland. Old 
Bemersley Farm stood on a hill that overlooked 
the landscape on either side, and many a dale 
and valley and wood did this ancient house 
command from its eminence. Looking at the 
scenery to-day, it requires little discernment to 
perceive how wild and rugged the place must 


have been in 
1772. On one 
side lay the 
Valley of the 
Potteries, but 
the smoke 
and the bustle 
were hidden 
in the dis- 
tance ; and on 
the other the 
view stretch- 
ed away over 

the great moorlands. There were three or four farm- 
houses dating from the sixteenth century, about 
the same number of cottage houses, and at the 
remote part of the hamlet stood Greenway Hall. 
Round this old house there was a large park and 
extensive game preserves." 

Bemersley Farm stood by the roadside some little distance 

from Bemersley. The visitor saw nothing in the outward 

aspect of the building to give it any distinction above 

other buildings of its kind. "It had nothing of the 

world's glory." It was but an ordinary farm-house with the usual appurtenances 

fold-yard, barn, and stables. Here lived the Editor and the Book Steward, who had 

to adapt the buildings to their new purposes. James Bourne, therefore, laid out before 

May, 1823, the sum of 373 8s. lOd. in the purchase of a printing-press, type, 

and other printer's plant, and bookbinder's tools and materials as well, as Ave may 


infer from the entry in the Conference Minutes : "That it be recommended to the 
circuits to get their binding done at the Book-Room, if the Book-Room can get it 
done as well and as cheap as elsewhere." In one "of the farm-buildings adjoining the 
house, the printing-press and a few cases of type were set up, and the Conference 
"Minutes" of 1822 have the imprint: " Bemersley near Tunstall : Printed at the 
Office of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, by J. Bourne ; " whereas the Minutes 
of 1821 say : " J. Hutchinson, Printer, Silver Street, Hull " 

The Book-Room proper consisted of a detached rectangular building of the Barnic 
order of architecture, and plain even for a barn. As shown in our picture, it was 
pierced with few windows and sparsely provided with doors. Some of the walls of 
this building were lined with shelves divided into pens, in which the magazines and 
hymn books, small pamphlets and books of which the most popular was the "Journals 
of John Nelson" were stowed until the bi-monthly packing-day came round, when 
a gentle ripple of excitement went through the establishment. The bulk of the parcels 
were conveyed in carts to the canal-quays and shipped in boats to the various circiiits. 

Besides the two chief officers, there were resident a bailiff of the small farm, 
a journeyman, and an apprentice, and the son of James Bourne, who it is said worked 
in the printing-office, saying nothing of Mrs. Bourne and two maids. About the year 
1836, John Hallam was added to the establishment. His position was a somewhat 
peculiar one : for, after 1836, his name is not found on the stations for a term of 
years, though he is one of the members of the Book and General Committees. The 
explanation is, that by his hearty acceptance of Hugh Bourne's views and methods of 
work, and by his laborious and successful ministry, he had ingratiated himself with the 
Editor, and he being now in 1836 in very indifferent health, Hugh Bourne had installed 
him at Bemersley as his assistant, and had induced his brother to make him his 
assistant also, Mr. Hallam's salary being paid out of the private purse of the brothers. 
In this way John Hallam acquired great influence at the Book-Room and in the 
administration of Connexional affairs, even before the year 1843, when he was officially 
appointed Book Steward. It should also be said that Mr. George Baron, of Silsden, 

who often acted as Connexional Auditor, frequently 
paid visits to the Book-Room during this period, and 
that his business aptitude proved of great assistance to 
James Bourne. In 1840, the late Rev. Thomas Baron 
went to Bemersley to take the place of his brother for 
a short time, and, in his interesting reminiscences of 
that visit, he tells how it was his duty, early each week- 
day morning, to carry the post-bag with the Book- 
Room's letters for dispatch, two miles distance, to Norton, 
and to call at a public-house for letters which were 
left there for the Book-Room. Mr. Baron gives us 
a pleasant glimpse of the interior economy of the 
establishment : of the regular and reverent daily 
devotions, of the meals in common, of the hospitality 
MR. G. BARON. afforded to the ministers who frequently visited the 



Book-Room, and even to the goodly number who came from other societies to attend 
the Quarterly Lovefeast. What is still more interesting, we get a glimpse into the 
Editor's own room, where, when back from his not infrequent journeys, he attended 
to the duties of his office. 

" When at home he was generally busily engaged in editing or writing matter 
for the Magazines and in Connexional correspondence. His study was a good-sized 
room, fitted with shelves for his library. Among the books in it there was 
a complete well-bound set, from the beginning, of the 
Arminian and Wesleyan Magazines. The first volume 
contained a somewhat lengthy preface, neatly written 
and signed by John Wesley in his own handwriting. 
It is to be feared that the volumes have been scattered 
or lost. Had they been kept together they would now 
have been an interesting and valuable relic. Among 
other books in the library were a number of Wesley's 
and Fletcher's Works, Adam Clarke's Commentary, 
Gillie's " Historical Collections," Finney's " Lectures," 
Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, etc. [and these were for 
use, not ornament]. In the cold weather, a screen was 
placed in this room, behind which the venerable man 
was often quietly seated before a writing-table, busily 
seeking to stir up others in the work so near his own 
heart that of the conversion of sinners." * 

Such, then, was our first Book-Room. Thomas 

Bateman was a passing pilgrim here in May, 1824. He was on his way with 
George Taylor to attend the District Meeting at Ramsor to be held in Francis 
Horobin's house. The District Meeting was expected to be an umisually important 
one, as the rules had to be revised, and far-reaching changes introduced specially 
relating to district formation and representation. Hence, Thomas Bateman had 
been pressed to attend. He had stopped the nighi, with James Nixon, whom 
he had accompanied to his class with much profit to himself. Then, John 
Hancock whom he now met for the first time had looked in, and read him 
a lecture for having declined to preach special services at Pitt's Hill John Hancock's 
own favourite society alleging that ordinary services must always give way for special 
ones. And now, the wayfarers for they walked the whole distance to Ramsor had 
called at Bemersley, having noted all the places of historic interest to Primitive 
Methodists as they went along. At Bemersley a short time was spent in looking round, 
and Thomas Bateman indulged in " numerous reflections on the place and its surround- 
ings on which an angel might pause and wonder." 

Sentimental reflections are here pardonable enough ; but the most obvious reflection 
called up by the view of the Bemersley Book-Room is that which Thomas Bateman 
himself suggests. That the important District Meeting of 1824 which we may 

* See appendix to second edition of '' Life of Hugh Bourne," by Dr. W. Antliff and the Aldersgate 
Magazine for 1900, pp. 751-4. 


venture to say was a rehearsal of the proceedings of the Conference was held in the 
room of a farmhouse in a secluded hamlet in one of the most secluded parts of 
Staffordshire, was a fact just ns remarkable as that the Connexional Book-Room should 
be located in the farm-buildings of another Staffordshire hamlet. Both facts were 
remarkable, and yet natural ; for they show in a very striking way, what other 
consentient facts also show ; that we w ere as yet largely a village community and, 
further, that considering the area up to this -time occupied by Primitive Methodism 
embracing the country we have already surveyed the location of the Book-Room was 
fairly central, and not inappropriate. By 1843 this will be no longer true, as John 
Flesher will soon learn when he comes to take up his editorial duties at Bernersley. 

But why was Thomas Bateman never a member of the Book Committee, and not 
even a member of the General Committee until 1839? This question is worth 
considering in its relation to the Bemersley period of our history. It is fortunate that 
we can here let Thomas Bateman answer for himself. Writing of this same Ramsor 
District Meeting of 1824, he says : 

" There was much business all peaceable ; but I did not feel in my proper 
element. I believe at present God has not sent me either to baptise or legislate, but 
to preach the Gospel. And though much deference was shown to me by the 
brethren, I feel no wish ever to attend another such meeting : and after much 
thought, believing as I did that my friend Taylor had a special call and was well 
qualified for such work, I resolved never to attend another District Meeting or 
Conference so long as he lived and could attend, unless I had some special call to 
do so. [And he kept his resolve and was not present at District Meeting or 
Conference until after 1837, but made up for it afterwards.]" 

Writing fifty-seven years after, he repeats the statement here made, but further adds 
what is germane to our purpose : 

" From this cause [the keeping of this resolve] my name seldom appeared in the 
Minutes or otherwise as affecting Connexional movements. Still, no change of any 
moment took place without my being consulted, and I was always ready to give the 
best advice I could, which was always received with the greatest cordiality." 

We believe the words we have italicised to be true to their very last iota, and that, 
though Thomas Bateman was apparently in the background through 
the greater part of the first period, we must put him in the very 
fore-front of the men most of whom we know who guided the 
revolutions of the central wheel of management. We do not 
forget such prominent Tunstall District men as Thomas Wood, 
the Brownhills, R. Mayer, the first Primitive Methodist Mayor 
of Newcastle-under-Lyne, and others already mentioned. Even 
before he was fully committed to the Connexion, Hugh Bourne 
was drawn to young Bateman. He read him portions of the 
History of the Connexion he was then busy with. He opened 

. , , , . . . . , ,. . , THE LATE R. MAYER, 

his mind freely to him concerning the forthcoming Magazine, and first Primitive 
asked him to become a contributor ; and to the very end of Hugh 


Bourne's life, there was no man who had more influence with, and over, him than 
the quiet, sagacious, forcible-speaking farmer and surveyor of Chorley. 

We must now proceed to chronicle some of the more important transactions of the 
Bemersley Book Committee. First in order among these, were those relating to the 
Hymn Book. It seems gradually to have been borne in upon the mind of Hugh Bourne 
that the Revival Hymn Book was a valuable property worth preserving. Therefore, 
in 1821, he resolved to copyright the book. To enable him to do this he himself 
composed some original hymns, and Poet Sanders was asked to do the same for a con- 
sideration. There exists a curious document, worth giving in eztenso, in which William 
Sanders, in precise legal form, contracts to furnish twenty-five original hymns for the 
same number of shillings. 

"Received March 1821, of Hugh Bourne, the sum of twenty-five shillings, for 
twenty-five hymns, which by contract were composed by me for his use, and which 
I have made over to him in the fullest sense of the word, and which from this 
time become and are in every sense his own absolute property. The first line and 
metre, and number of verses of each are as follow : 1st. C.M., four verses,, 
beginning 'Alas ! how soon the body dies ' : arid so it continues to the 25th, P.M. 
eight verses Camp-meeting Farewell ' Dear Brethren and Sisters in Jesus, 
Farewell.' I say received by me, 

"Signed in the presence of C. J. Abraham." 

The wisdom of the protective measures taken was seen in 1823, when a printer at 
York named Kendrew, who had infringed the copyright of the Hymn Book, was 
brought to his knees. The law was set in motion, but Kendrew capitulated before the 
case went into court, and signed an agreement pledging himself not to repeat the 
offence, to pay all the costs incurred, and to surrender all copies of the unauthorised 
edition in his possession. The Committee having gained its object, which was to 
vindicate its rights and safeguard the interests of the Connexion, could now afford to 
be generous. Hence the stringency of the last condition was somewhat relaxed, and it 
was agreed to pay Kendrew a certain sum on each surrendered copy of the Hymn 
Book. The Conference held at Leeds this same year (1823) directed that "a large 
standard Hymn Book should be prepared and printed at the Book-Room, for the general 
use of the Connexion." Evidently it was felt that even the improved edition of 1821, 
with its one hundred and fifty-four hymns, was inadequate to meet the growing 
demands of church-life. A book was called for which should " contain Hymns for the 
sacraments and for the general varieties of meetings and worship." The Minutes of 
1823 go on to say that "the new book is expected to be got ready by the close of the 
present year, or early in the next year." With 1824, then, began the reign of the Large 
ai.d Small Hymn Book (bound together) which served the uses of the Church until 
1853, when John Flesher was instructed to compile a new Hymn Book. The Preface 
to the Large Hymn Book claims that it has been " compiled from the best authors, and 
enriched Avith original hymns," and that " the original hymns were of a superior cast." 
With his eye on this alleged "superior cast" a friendly critic has written evidently 
with regret : 

" We look in vain among the original hymns ... for one that has survived 



the test of three-quarters of a century's wear ; posterity, we grieve to say, did not 
find in them the etherial quality of an immortal hymn. We wish that there had 
been at least one sweet singer for all Churches, and for all time, among the band of 
consecrated single-hearted men, who did so much for British working men at the 
beginning of this century." * 

Now, though it scarcely falls within our province to discuss the literary merits or 
demerits of our early hymn books, a word or two may be said. It may be that no one 
has given us a hymn dowered with immortality, and which has made its way into 
almost every Hymnary. That may be conceded. But there are two hymns both said 
to be the joint production of Hugh Bourne and W. Sanders we would speak up for, 
or rather, let them speak for themselves " My soul is now united," which first 
appeared in the 1821 Collection, and especially, " Hark ! the gospel news is sounding," 
in the Large Hymn Book. These have worn well, and are not worn out yet. For open-air 
purposes there is no better, more stirring hymn than this latter ; it has well been called, 
" The Primitive Methodist Grand March." These, and others that might be named, are 
incomparably better than some of the jingles that have had considerable vogue in 

these later days. The best defence, 
however, we have to offer for the 
old hymns is, that " they served 
their generation by the will of God," 
and some of them at least, like the 
two named, have not yet fallen on 
sleep. They had the power to arouse 
attention and nourish the spiritual 
life. " Hark ! the gospel news is 
sounding," was once being sung, at 
the dusk of eventide, in a little 

"A young man, full of spiritual 

Suffer little children to come unto me Luke xviii. 16- 


No. 1.] 

OCTOBER, 1824. 

{VOL. 1. 


WE are now entering on a cfew work : a. 
work designed for you, ye children of praying 
Parental of Parents who bear you up before 
the Lord ; and who strive, to bring the guard 
of heaven upon you by prayer. 'You already 
inherit a blessing ; for the generation of the 
upright is blessed. You hear the words of piety 
from the lips ef your parents. Your hearts are 
maved with a desire to love God, to be^ the 
children of your heavenly Father, and to serve 
him as long as you live. 

Sometimes you view the creation in all the 
beauties of spring; and consider that it is your 
neavenly Father who causes the grass to grow, 


anxiety, was leaning on a wall in 
the distance, and heard the joyous 
strains of the refrain : ' None 
need perish.' A responsive faith 
awoke in his soul ; peace came ; he 
dedicated his life to Jesus, and is 
now a minister of the Connexion. 
Again : ' By the singing of this 
soul-stirring hymn ['My soul is now 
united'] at a lovefeast near Pock- 
lington, in 1822, eighteen souls 
surrendered to Jesus Christ and 
found peace ! " t 

Could even " Lead, kindly Light " 
do more than this 1 

* Rev. J. O. Gledstone, " Primitive Methodist Hymn Books," in The Puritan. 
t See " Lyric Studies : A Hymnal Guide," by Revs. J. Doricott and T. Collins. An admirable 
compendium to which the author would express the obligations of years. 


In 1824, the Children'* Maijazine was begun. Though this venture AVHS entered 
upon with no little anxiety, it proved from the very first a signal success. 
The demand greatly exceeded expectations ; so much so, that several impressions 
had to be printed, until seven thousand copies had been struck off, and the monthly 
circulation reached six thousand. We have pleasure in giving a reproduction of the 
first page of the first number of this excessively rare publication. 

As we all know, " Take care of the children " was the life-long solicitude and 
dying charge of Hugh Bourne. In his case it amounted to a passion, and became one 
of his most strongly-marked characteristics. Nor was he slow in urging upon others 
the same solicitude for bringing the young under the influence of Christian truth. Age 
wrought no abatement of his zeal ; and hence, probably the last separate production 
that came from his pen, bore the title : 

" The Early Trumpet : A Treatise on Preaching to Children. By Hugh Bourne, 
Bemersley, 1843."* 

What has been said of the early Hymn Books equally holds good of the early 
Magazines : they were suitable for their time and for the purpose they had to 
fulfil This may safely be said, as it also may, that what sufficed in 1823 had its 
obvious shortcomings twenty years later, and would never do now. Other times ; other 
Magazines. Undoubtedly the Magazines of the Bemersley period helped to cement the 
circuits of the Connexion together, and to promote the work of God. The revival 
intelligence they contained, the biographies, the occasional articles on " Providence," 
"Faith," "Conversation-gift" etc., would do much to stimulate and to inform 
their readers. It is wonderful, considering his many journeyings, and the amount of 
other work he did, that Hugh Bourne fulfilled his editorial duties as well as he did 
fulfil them. We cannot help remarking, too, how widely divergent have been 
the estimates formed of his intellectual capabilities and performances. Our own 
opinion is that, as to these, he has been often under-rated. He had his oddities 
and weaknesses, and especially in later years, his infirmities of temper, but he had an 
alert and vigorous mind, and he could write in a way that made it impossible for any 
one to mistake his meaning. By choice he habited his thoughts in homespun. Some 
gifted men, who clothed their thoughts in Johnsonian garb, have interpreted his 
homespun as a sign of intellectual poverty. Never was there a greater mistake. His 
thought's expression was not cast in the customary moulds of verbal form. It was 
rugged, even uncouth, as though hewn from granite : but there it is outstanding, 
clear, and unmistakable. 

Even the ablest and most heaven-sent editor may find his work a difficult one, just 
because so many of his readers think it so easy. Allowing for this, and also allowing 
for the advancing intelligence of the Connexion through the 'Twenties and 'Thirties, 
which went on creating wants not fully satisfied, we are not surprised to find in the 
old Minute Books evidence that the Magazine was sometimes criticised, and that proposals 
were made for its improvement. Especially was this so in such centres of light and 

* The only copy we have seen is one given by H. Bourne himself to Rev. W. R. Widdowson. 


leading as Nottingham and Hull. In proof of this take the following resolutions 
passed at the Nottingham Cinmit Quarterly Meeting, 1827 : 

"March 19th. Res. 59. 'That there be an improvement in the Magazine. 
That it be an octavo size, price sixpence and improved in matter. 

" (60). That every preacher be required to write four pages per year. 

"(61). That there be three editors." [And then the 'three' is crossed out and 
'two' over-written.] 

So also at Hull, in March, 1830, the Quarterly Meeting discussed the Magazines and 
came to the conclusion that "they ought to contain more original articles," and 
requested "each preacher [in 1830 there were twenty-four in Hull Circuit] who could, 
to write at least one page per month." 

As we turn over the leaves of the old Conference Minutes, we meet with many 
reminders of the changed conditions which time has brought about, and we get the 
impression that the first Book Committee was composed of careful, managing men who 
were fertile in resource. The Conference of 1823 recommended that a depository of 
books obtained from the Book Room should be formed in every circuit. The money in 
the first instance was to be taken out of past profits and supplemented, if need be, by 
subscriptions. A circuit with one preacher was to take three pounds' worth of 
goods ; a circuit with two preachers, six pounds worth, and so on in proportion. 
The Station Book Steward, who it must be remembered was not necessarily 
a travelling preacher, was to see to the carrying out of this recommendation. 
In 1824, Hugh Bourne felt it necessary to ask the Conference to allow him four pounds 
a quarter as salary, and ten shillings a week for board and lodging a young man's 
salary. History says that there was one person of considerable talking-power at the 
Conference who thought it his duty to oppose this modest request ; but it was granted 
notwithstanding, the objector being in a hopeless minority. In 1827, a scheme for the 
starting of a "Preachers' Magazine," on which Hugh Bourne had set his heart, was 
broached. In answer to the question, "What shall be done in relation to the 
Magazine 1 " it was resolved : 

" One number in duodecimo shall be published, and if it does not pay its way, 
Hugh Bourne has agreed to bear the loss. But if it take so large a circulation as 
to do more than pay its way, the profits must not go to H.B. but to the Connexion. 
Also a succession of Xos. may be published if there be an opening." 

A succession of numbers sufficient to make up one volume did appear, but there 
were no profits for the Connexion ; and Hugh Bourne was permitted to make up the 

In 1833, what in the Minutes is usually termed "the cross-providence" overtook the 
Book-Room. On Good Friday Eve, 1833, the Book-Room took fire. How it originated 
no one knew ; " whether from the fire that dried the paper or from the snuff of 
a candle." Damage to the extent of 1,900 was caused, involving, about equally, the 
private property of the Book Steward and that belonging the Connexion. At that 
time, James Bourne was a man of considerable means, and it is recorded : " J. B. 
desires nothing for that portion of the loss which belonged to him ; but hopeth that in 


time, by the kind providence of God, he may surmount it." A levy of one penny per 
member was imposed in order to make good this loss of Connexional property. Sixty 
years after, the Book-Eoom, then standing, as it now stands, within the " conflagration 
area" of Central London, was within measurable distance of having a second experience 
of the like kind, but tenfold worse in degree. But this time a favourable Providence 
saved the goodly pile from disaster. While anxiety was reflected on the flame-lit 
countenances of the Book Steward and his staff, a change in the direction of the wind 
averted what seemed to be the impending catastrophe. 

How and why the Book-Eoom got from Bemersley into the roar of Central London 
must be told later on. 



ANCHESTKR was made an independent circuit in 1821 by the same Quarterly 
Meeting which made Burland a branch. Because of its derivation from 
Tunstall, the original circuit, it was placed fourth in order amongst the 
sixteen circuits which at that time constituted the entire Connexion. 
Looking merely at the order of circuit formation, Manchester would rightly claim to 
come under notice before Burland, which was not made a circuit until 1823; but, 
having special regard to the geographical direction and spread of Primitive Methodism, 
the right is reversed. We have seen that north-west Cheshire was being inundated 
by the revival movement twelve months before its wave had reached the city on the 
Mersey. The extension of Tunstall Circuit to Manchester was one result of that great 
revival which may be said to have begun by John Wedgwood's mission to Staffordshire 
in 1819. We propose, therefore, in this chapter, to present the facts, so far as they 
can be ascertained, relative to the introduction of Primitive Methodism into Manchester, 
and to show what position the denomination had attained in that city and the 
neighbouring towns to which its labours had extended, by the year 1842. 

Hitherto, it seems to have been thought almost hopeless to recover the names of 
those who had the honour of being the very first pioneers of the Connexion in Manchester. 
We would fain hope, however, that, even with the scanty data available, the nameless 
ones may yet be identified. There is a long-standing tradition to the effect that 
Primitive Methodism was first carried to Manchester by "a local preacher from 
Macclesfield ; that he had a wooden leg ; that he walked from Macclesfield on the 
Sunday morning to Manchester ; that he preached at the New Cross after dinner ; and 
that he walked home after preaching in the evening, thus performing a journey of 
thirty-six miles on foot ! " " Now tradition is often very tenacious in its hold of 
essential fact, especially when the fact is such as to make a strong appeal to the 
imagination ; and the mental picture of the unknown missionary with his artificial 
limb, stumping his way to Manchester and back, has stamped itself on the imaginations 
of men. Who else should the hero of our tradition be than " Eleazar Hathorn of the 
wooden leg " the convert of Lorenzo Dow, active participant in the first Mow Cop 
Camp Meeting, the fellow-labourer of John Benton in the East Staffordshire Mission 
of 1814, and the instrument in the awakening of John Ride? We had reached the 
conclusion that the man we were in search of was no other than Eleazar Hathorn, when 
we found unexpected and pleasing confirmation of such conclusion in an obscure footnote 
of Herod's " Sketches," in the words : " This said Eleazar was the first Primitive that 

* The Introduction and Spread of Primitive Methodism in Lancashire, in " Anecdotes and Facts of 
Primitive Methodism." Ity Eev. Samuel Smith, p. 91. For other References to Eleazar Hathorn, 
see vol. i. pp. 68 ; 192. 


entered Manchester." * We may therefore reasonably conclude that the identification 
holds; and although Manchester bulks largely in the eye of the Connexion, and is 
sure to bulk still more largely in the future, it has no need to look otherwise than 
complacently on the figure of the old soldier determinedly plodding his way to deliver his 
message at the New Cross. We can think of no more fitting precursor and prototype of 
that community which had, with slender and imperfect appliances, and against heavy 
odds, to win its way step by step to an assured and honourable position in Cottonopolis. 
The war-worn veteran was a herald quite as worthy as though he had rushed there on 
his own motor-car, or been able to speed to the big city with the swiftness of an Elijah 
forerunning the chariot of Ahab. 

But if Eleazar Hathorn was the herald of the Connexion to Manchester, who was 
its apostle its sent one 1 To whom, of official status, does Hugh Bourne allude in the 
explicit statement : " Manchester was visited and preaching established about March, 
1821"?t This statement is not at variance with the tradition already referred to; 
rather do tradition and statement confirm each other. Eleazar Hathorn who, in keeping 
with his habits, had gone to Manchester to do a little independent missioning, in the 
time of Macclesfield's fervour, would naturally report his doings, and probably urge upon 
the "heads of houses" (and we know that Hugh Bourne visited him) to follow up 
officially these visits of his. We light upon a clue as to the person selected to 
" open " Manchester, in an entry in Hugh Bourne's Journal. Writing under date, 
January 18th, 1821, he tells how he came to Belper and saw Thomas Jackson, and then 
goes on to say : " We agreed for him to go to Manchester, to be there on Sunday, 
March 9th." Unfortunately, there is an evident error here as to the date ; for March 9th 
was Wednesday, and not Sunday. Probably March 6th was the date intended. In 
order that T. Jackson might be at liberty to give this Sunday to Manchester, some 
re-arrangement of appointments was necessary ; so H. B. was to get R. Bentley to preach 
at Rocester at that time, and H. B. was to preach at Rocester on the 20th of March. 
This arrangement was carried out so far as Hugh Bourne was concerned, and, doubtless, 
Thomas Jackson fulfilled the duty assigned to him, and on the 6th March, officially 
opened Manchester. Here is the " apostle " we are in search of. 

Let us briefly recall the "form and pressure" of the time when we made our entry 
into Manchester. George the Third had but recently died, and in a few months 
(July 27th, 1821) the coronation of his graceless successor would be celebrated. One 
notable feature of the celebration was to be a procession, two-and-a-half miles long, from 
Peter's Field to Ardwick Green, and the night was destined to close with a drunken orgie 
in Shude Market, qualified by a retributive disaster. Peterloo, with the rankling memories 
it had left, was only just behind. At New Cross, where our first missionaries so often 
took their stand, not many months before, cannon had been planted to sweep the streets 
and overawe the populace. Nor were those cannon placed there merely for dumb show. 
Manchester was like a caldron in which conflicting elements were seething. They were 
indeed sad times, as may be gathered from the fact that another Thomas Jackson, 

* Herod's " Biographical Sketches." Footnote, p. 461. 
t Magazine for 1821, p. 77. 


though a duly ordained Methodist minister whom the highest Connexional honours 
awaited, was at this time "forced by the magistrates even after the public services of 
the Sabbath-day (in Oldham Street) to walk the streets through the night, in company 
with others, for the purpose of reporting .any suspicious movements that might 
appear." '' With Peterloo in the near background, and the struggle against the 
Corn-laws and for the Charter in prospect, who will say that the former times were 
better than these, or question the statement that there was room in Manchester for any 
corrective and ameliorative influences Primitive Methodism could bring 1 

We are told that the first meetings of the newly formed cause in Manchester were 
held " in a loft over a stable in Chorlton-upon-Medlock, somewhere about Brook Street, 
also in a cottage in London Square, Bank Top." Very soon "a top room over an old 
factory up an entry in Ancoats," locally known as " the Long Room," was acquired ; 
and on July 30th, 1820, Ann Brownsword preached several times in this room and also 
at the New Cross. She speaks of crowded services in the room and of having had ten 
converts on two successive week evenings. At this time she reports that there are five 
classes and eighty members. On the 27th and 28th of August Hugh Bourne preached 
at New Cross and in the Long Room. He renewed the tickets to the society and 
arrangements were made for the first camp meeting, which from another source we learn 
was held on the Ashton Road, on September 17th. This camp meeting was conducted 
by James Bonsor, fresh from his experience at the Stafford Sessions, who had been 
brought from Darlaston Circuit in exchange for Ann Brownsword. James Bousor's 
labours were not confined to one locality, but pretty well distributed as the following 
entry shows : 

" Sunday, October 1st, 18W. At eight preached in Cropper Street. At ten Bro. 

Smith preached at Salford Cross, and I gave an exhortation. A many seemed 

affected. At half-past eleven I preached at another place in Salford. At half-past 

one, Bro. Smith and 1 preached in Castle Field. Many people and a good 

time ; sinners cried much for mercy. At half-past three I preached in another 

part of Manchester to a large congregation. Near five, I preached at Salford Cross, 

and at half -past six, at Manchester New Cross." Magazine, 1821, p. 20. 

Thus on one Sabbath he took part in seven services in different parts of Manchester. 

No wonder that from the committee meeting, held on October 6th, he reports that 

things are in a very flourishing state ; that there are nearly one hundred members, and 

that they had agreed to take another room in a different part of the town. The room 

here alluded to would probably be the same as that more explicitly referred to by Hugh 

Bourne (Magazine 1821) in the report of the Michaelmas Quarterly Meeting of the 

Tunstall Circuit, wherein he says of Manchester : " They have a very large room in 

New Islington, and they have had the courage to take another large room in Chancery 

Lane. This example may be followed with advantage in most towns." 

As early as James Bonsor's short mission in Manchester two names that should not 
be forgotten came before us for the first time. Samuel Waller, a cotton-spinner in 

* " Recollections of My own Life and Times." By Thomas Jackson, p. 173. Mrs. Linnaeus 
Banks deals with this precise time in " The Manchester Man." The work contains much local colour 
and word-sketches of contemporary persons and. localities. 




partnership with his brothers, was at this time a Methodist class-leader. He was 
brought in contact with the Primitives and felt drawn to them by reason of their 
methods of doing good and their plainness in dress. With the concurrence of his 
brother, who was also a Methodist class leader, he joined the infant society. His first 
public effort was made on September 25th, 1820, at what was called a watch-night 
service in the Long Room, when he and Walton Carter each gave an exhortation, 
and James Bonsor " made a statement as to the work of God." Before twelve months 
were over, he suffered imprisonment for preaching in the open air, and Samuel Waller 
shares with Thomas Russell the honour of having endured the longest and most trying 

imprisonment recorded in our 
Connexional annals. A subordinate 
constable, a renegade Methodist, 
made himself obnoxiously busy 
in interfering with the service 
held on the evening of June 17th, 
1821. There was no disturbance, 
and no clear case of obstruction, 
yet Mr. Waller was committed 
to take his trial at the Salford 
Sessions, charged with : " Having 
in the King's highway, in 
Ashton-under-Lyne, unlawfully 
and injudiciously caused and 
procured a great number of persons 
to assemble together, obstructing 
the said highway, to the great 
damage and common nuisance of 
the liege subjects of our Lord the 
King ; and with making a noise, 
riot, tumult, and disturbance ; 
and with making such riot by 
shouting and singing ; and wholly 
choking up and obstructing the 
street and highway." Mr. Waller 
THE "LONG ROOM," NEW ISLINGTON, MANCHESTER. wa sentenced to be imprisoned f or 

The entrance is through the Archway, now partly closed, at the right three months in Manchester New 
end of building. The Long Boom is the top story. . 

Bailey, and, on the expiry of his 

term, he was re-committed for six days in order to make up the three calendar months. 
So far as the North of England is concerned, we shall meet with no other incident like 
this in the history of Primitive Methodism. Yet no inference can be drawn from the 
incident to the discredit of the people of Lancashire. On the contrary, their sense 
of justice was outraged by the treatment meted out to Mr. Waller, and there was no 
lack of sympathy with the prisoner, who was seriously ill during his confinement. 
The prison doctor showed himself either indifferent or incompetent ; but by the good 


offices of friends the best medical aid was procured, and the governor of the jail acted 
in a most humane manner. It is clear that political animus had more to do with 
this travesty of justice than ought else. The magistrates had lost their heads. They 
saw signs of possible riot and disturbance everywhere. The bias of the chairman of the 
Quarter Sessions was revealed by the observations he dropped during the course of 
the trial ; and, if what is alleged be true, that the chairman was the vicar of Eochdale, 
who had been "military leader" on the black day of Peterloo, much is explained. 

"The day after Mr. Waller's discharge, Wednesday, October 17th, 1821, a meeting 
was held at Chancery Lane, when it appeared this imprisonment had been the means 
of stirring up many to hear the Word, and on the whole that it had served greatly 
to advance the Redeemer's kingdom."* No doubt at this significant service there 
would be sung some of those special hymns " On the Releasement of S. Waller from 
Prison," we find in the Magazine for 1822.. We do not catch, in these hymns, the 
triumphant note that strikes us in those called forth by John Wedgwood's Grantham 
experiences. In these the pervading sentiment is one of chastened thankfulness, as 
is seen in the chorus of one of them : 

" Releas'd from bondage, grief, and pain, 
"We meet with this our friend again." 

One of the best of these hymns was written by Walton Carter, already referred to. 
He too encountered the " backsliding Methodist constable," who pulled him down at 
Ashton Cross and tore his clothe?. But though Carter was brought before the 
magistrates at Oldham, he and his companion were dismissed. Of Walton Carter's 
antecedents we can glean nothing ; but he became a noted missioner in Manchester 
and its neighbourhood, and was our Connexional pioneer in several towns which are 
now the head of important stations. In fact he seems to have fulfilled the duties 
of a travelling preacher in the Manchester Circuit during the years 1821-2, although 
his name does not appear on the official stations ; so that, although Manchester Circuit 
in 1821 has only John Verity down for it, with the words "for six months" 
appended, we need not suppose that Manchester was left without a preacher for half 
the year. Walton Carter was on the ground. His well-written Journals appear side 
by side with those of Verity in the Magazine, and when Verity has left, Carter is still 
actively engaged in the circuit, and as late as May, 1822, sends an account to the 
Magazine of the first Oldham camp meeting. In 1823 his name appears on the stations 
for the first and last time, in connection with Halifax. He retired from the ministry, 
and subsequently became the proprietor of a day and boarding school at Bucklow Hill, 
near Knutsford. The breach with the past was not complete. He still kept in touch 
with Manchester ; for amongst his boarders were several youths belonging to Primitive 
Methodist families resident in the city in which he had once rendered good service. 
There is reason to fear, however, that his last days were not the brightest and 
the best. 

Before the close of 1821, there were, as the books show, in Manchester alone 

* There is a full account of the trial of S. Waller in the Magazine for 1822, pp. 259, 281. 
See also S. Smith's " The Introduction," etc., already cited, p. 98. 

B 2 



two hundred and eleven members. The progress of the Society in other respects than in 
numbers was marked by the building, in 1823-4, of Jersey Street Chapel, which, right 
through and beyond the first period of our history, was the well-known centre of our 
work in Manchester. The superintendent at the time was Thomas Sugden, whose 
name disappears from the stations in 1824. He was not, however, lost to the 
Connexion, but settled down in Manchester, and made himself useful in various ways. 
"Thomas Sugden, confectioner, Manchester," was one of the original signatories of 
the Deed Poll, who took their seats, for the first time, at the Conference of 1832. 
Ralph Waller (the brother of Samuel Waller), cotton-spinner, Mellor, near Manchester, 
was another of these original members ; and when, by the death of George Taylor, the 
first vacancy occurred on the Deed Poll, the Bradford Conference elected Stephen 

Longdin, of Manchester, to the office. 
Stephen Longdin's election to this office, 
together with the fact that his portrait is 
to be found amongst those of the early 
Presidents of Conference, along with the 
very few laymen, such as George Hanford, 
Joseph Bailey, and Thomas Bateman, who 
are credited with having attained to that 
unusual distinction, proves that at the 
time of his election to the chair in 1849, he 
was widely known as a Connexional man. 
Born in 1795, he survived until 1878; 
and, as early as 1824, he had become a 
useful class leader, and was giving proof 
of the possession of unusual preaching 
ability and of special aptitude for the 
administration of affairs, all which made 
him, through a long course of years, a 
leading figure in Manchester Primitive 
^ Methodism. 

OLD JERSEY STREET CHAPEL, MANCHESTER. The opening services of Jersey Street 

Chapel, in which Hugh Bourne took part, 

were held in the early part of 1824. The building was spacious; the gallery alone 
having accommodation for five hundred people. " Unfortunately the attendance at 
the subsequent services was not so large as had been anticipated. The interest on 
the heavy mortgage and the costs of maintenance pressed seriously on the limited 
resources of the Society, and in the end it was felt that the liabilities were too heavy 
to be carried. The trustees, therefore, determined on an alteration of the building. 
A floor was inserted across the well of the gallery, and in the lower portion of the 
building dwelling-houses were constructed, the rents of which materially helped the 
trustees to carry the financial burden. After these alterations the public religious 
services were well attended, and several persons who attained distinction in public 
life became regular hearers. Alderman Walton Smith, Mr. Joseph Nail, Councillor 






Gregory Alcock, and the Waller family were for a long period among the stated 
worshippers." * 

The structural, brick-and-mortar history of Jersey Street, of Canaan Street, of 
West Street, or any other of the historic chapels of Primitive Methodism is the least 
important part of its history to be recalled. The main thing to be recognised is the 
body of rich and constantly multiplying associations that for so many people gathered 
round the building ; the large place it filled in the better part of the lives of so many ; 
the memories arid the talks by the fireside of the men who ministered or were 
ministered unto within its walls ; the historic meetings, the notable texts and sermons, 
the remarkable conversions, the rousing prayer-meetings, the inspiring hymns, the 
love-feast experiences ; the institutional Saturday-night band-meeting, for which even 
the country people would steal an hour from their marketing ; even the traits and 
oddities and outstanding features in the characters of the habitual frequenters of the 
sanctuary, remembered all the more vividly when they are gone all this constitutes 
the true history of the plain old building now no more, and explains the hold it got 
on the hearts and imaginations of men, and yet all this has to be conceived rather 
than described in relation to Jersey Street, which was the ganglion the nerve-centre 
of our denominational life in Manchester for so long a term of years. 

Two Conferences were held in Jersey Street that of 1827, of which we know 
a little, and that of 1840, of which we know next to nothing. At the former there 
were five o'clock morning preachings, a procession through a large part of the town to 
the camp-ground near the workhouse, and in the evening there was held what may be 
called an In Memoriam service for James Steele, who had died but a few days before 
the opening of Conference. W. Clowes would have taken a leading part in this 
service but for the fact that he was then, and had been for some time, in an indifferent 
state of health. As it was, it fell to the lot of Hugh Bourne and Thomas King to 
speak of the life and death of this honoured servant of God. In his Journal, however, 
Clowes tells how he had visited James Steele whom he designates " one. of the 
founders of the Primitive Methodist Connexion" only a few minutes before he 
expired. He records how, though the sands of the hour-glass were fast running out, 
the good man " entered freely into conversation respecting the work of the Lord," 
and how, when asked if his faith stood firm, he replied in the words of the Psalmist, 
" I will not forsake thee when thy faith faileth." 

An administrative change of some importance was effected at this Conference. 
A new district was formed out of some of the frontier stations of Tunstall, Nottingham, 
and Hull Districts, and of this new district Manchester was made the head. Towards 
the formation Nottingham gave New Mills, and a year after Bradwell ; Hull gave 
Preston, Blackburn, Clitheroe, and Keighley ; while the mother-district contributed 
Preston Brook, Liverpool, and Chester, together with Manchester and its daughter- 
circuits Oldham and Bolton, and Bolton's own child the Isle of Man. Thus it will 
be seen at a glance, that Manchester District was made rather than grew. A new 
district was created, as it were by a stroke of the pen, for administrative purposes, 

* Communicated by Mr. W. E. Parker. 


out of circuits of diverse origin. It is not, therefore, Avith the beginnings of the 
Conference-created Manchester District of 1827 this chapter has to do, but rather 
with the Manchester district of to-day, made up, as for the most part it is, of circuits 
of which Manchester was the nucleus. If the time should come, as possibly it may, 
when the circuits which grew out of Hull's North Lancashire mission shall become 
a separate district with, say, Preston as its titular head, then there will be something 
like a reversion, and district arrangements will in a striking way conform to the facts 
of our history, which show how the ground now covered by the present Manchester 
and Liverpool Districts was first missioned by a triple agency. 



The four years following 1832 were for Manchester, as they were for the Connexion 
generally, a period of remarkable numerical increase. During this period the member- 
ship of the Manchester Circuit rose from five hundred and eighty-four in 1832, to 
one thousand three hundred and twenty in 1836, and the circuit more than doubled 
the number of its travelling preachers. Doubtless, the same general causes that 
wrought for improvement in other parts of the Connexion produced their salutary 
effects here also. The Church was all the healthier ahd stronger for service because 
of the time of trial and sifting through which it had passed. Over and above these 
widely distributed causes, however, there was a special cause largely accountable for 
local success, to which Hugh Bourne thus alludes in his Journal : 

" July 30th, 1832. Came to Manchester, ten miles by the railway. Saw brothers 
Butcher, Brame, and Gibson [the travelling preachers], and was thankful to hear 
of there being an excellent revival at Rochdale, in this Circuit ; and that the 
converting work is on the move in the Jersey Street Chapel in Manchester. I was 
also thankful to hear that the pious praying labourers in Manchester have entered 
on the open-air system with vigour and effect. I do trust that this system will 
find its way into all the circuits." 

Who were these pious, praying labourers, and what was the open-air system they 
practised? First in order amongst the names "to be had in respectful remembrance" must 
be placed the venerable Thomas Hewitt, in whose house in London Square, Banktop, 
the first class met in Manchester, and from whose doorstep the first missionary preached. 
He remained firm to the end of life, and zealous in his attachment to the Connexion ; 
and his eldest son, who likewise bore the name of Thomas, was for some time the 
efficient superintendent of the Sunday School. 

Of Jonathan Heywood, whom S. Smith describes as " a mighty man in prayer," we 
have a short pen-and-ink sketch by Mr. W. E. Parker : " Jonathan Heywood, an old 
man, full of song, a joyful Christian, exerted a strong religious influence during many 
years. He was somewhat diminutive of stature, but showed much quickness, alertness, 
even nimbleness. He was always ready for the spiritual fray. When speaking or 
singing he seemed as though set on springs, and with a thin, shrill voice, but with 
intense fervour and power he sought to help men by holy song into the kingdom of 



God. For many years before his death he was a complete invalid, and a great sufferer, 
but in all his affliction he witnessed a good confession, and died in triumph." 

Another member of the goodly fellowship of workers was Thomas Holden, who, 
Mr. Parker tells us, at an early date in the history of the society, came from Todd 
Hall, near Haslingden, and was, for thirty years, a most successful 
class leader. " His was a constant and conspicuous figure in the 
congregation of Jersey Street. His fine, manly form and his sweet 
but powerful voice made him a desirable leader in open-air work. 
A prayer meeting without his presence or without his prayer was 
not to be thought of." When James Holden, his eldest son, at last 
yielded to the convictions he had long resisted, that son's demonstra- 
tions of joy at his new-found liberty were like those of the healed 
paralytic, or like theirs whose captivity was turned. Others 
rejoiced with him in song and shouts of triumph. The scene 
MR. JAMES HOLDEN. was one no fc easily to be forgotten, and was often recalled. James 
Holden retained his active connection with Jersey Street until his lamented death 
in 1896. 

As recently as 1901, there passed away one whose life more than covered the entire 
history of Manchester Primitive Methodism. As a girl, Mrs. Hannah Me Kee received 
her first class-ticket in 1824, and was thus the contemporary of them who formed the 
remissioning bands, and she may well have assisted in their efforts. Not on this 
ground alone does she merit reference here, but because, for sixty years, she was 
a teacher in Jersey Street and New Islington Sunday Schools; a contributor on a 
somewhat large scale to the funds of the Church ; at the time of her death the oldest 
Primitive Methodist in Manchester ; and because she has left descendants, even to the 
fourth generation, who are closely associated with our denomination. 

Jonathan Ireland was undoubtedly the leader of the band. It was from him 
Hugh Bourne learned the facts about the " remissioning system," 
which he gave at length in the Magazine for 1835 ; and though 
no names are mentioned (by J. I.'s own request, it is said) it is 
clear that Hugh Bourne regarded him as the "founder" and 
leading spirit of the movement. Jonathan Ireland was by aptitude 
and preference "a determined street-preacher," as he has been 
well called. He began his religious life in association with the 
Church of England, in " gay Preston." But even then his native 
bent showed itself. He was restive under restrictions. The 
contemplative life had no charms for him ; nor could the 
observance of routine, however decorous, satisfy. He must do 
something, and something out of the common. So he rang 
the church bells, and planted shrubs in the churchyard. He even took part in house 
prayer meetings, where each one read his prayer out of the book ; and once, when he 
made a burst into free prayer, he chastised himself by self-reproaches for having given 
way to what was Methodistic and improper. But he broke free from his fetters, and 
became a Methodist and a successful class leader, and an active sick visitor. Then he 



came to Manchester, and- found his true vocation when he joined the Primitives. This 
was in November, 1823, when Jersey Street Chapel was a-building. 

When, in 1832, Manchester, like so many other towns and cities, was being ravaged 
by the cholera, Jonathan Ireland was moved to put forth special efforts to carry the 
gospel of salvation and consolation into the " streets and lanes of the city." He was 
nobly seconded by Jonathan Heywood, Thomas Hewitt, and others like-minded'. Their 
method was, beginning at the house-door of one of the band, to go singing through 
the streets to a suitable stand in some populous quarter, and then halt, while a short, 
pointed exhortation was given. The like procedure was repeated again and again, 
until the time for morning or evening service had come, when they sang their way 
to the chapel. These remissioning efforts were continued all through that fateful 
summer with good results ; but and this is the noteworthy thing they were not 
laid aside when the cholera had ceased its ravages. Each time the cholera has visited 
this country it has swollen our annual returns on the right side. An increase of 7120 
stands to the credit of 1833 ; and the increase for 1850, following upon the fearful 
visitation of 1848-9, when more than five thousand persons perished, was still higher, 
amounting to 9205, a figure never reached before or since. But closer scrutiny would 
show that in some localities, the year of ingathering was followed by a year of wastage; 
that re-action followed revival ; that many whom the cholera had frightened into the 
Church rather than driven to Christ, withdrew ; and that even the Church itself, now 
that the scourge was overpast, too frequently relaxed its efforts to save men. But, as 
we have said, it was not so in Manchester ; rather was remissioning carried on more 
energetically than before. 

The planting of our Church in Salford grew out of the unremitting efforts of 
Jonathan Ireland and his co-workers. The first headquarters were in a room in 
Dale Street; then, in 1844, King Street Chapel was opened (afterwards Blackfriars 
Street, and now Camp Street, Broughton). One cannot read Jonathan Ireland's 
"Autobiography"* without being impressed with his tireless zeal and, no less, with 
his tact and resourcefulness. He was a true disciple of Hugh Bourne in never failing 
to notice the children. Even the slatterns and viragos of a "mean street" were 
mollified, as they saw the preacher shaking hands with the bairns at the close of a 
service. When he went into an Irish quarter, he knew better than to lead off with 
a denunciation of the Pope and all his works. He sought rather to begin by finding 
some common ground of agreement with his hearers. One quotation we will give, to 
show his methods and the kind of work that was being done during those earlier 
years : 

;< One Sunday morning at nine o'clock (it was the Sunday following the races, 
and so drunkenness was peculiarly prevalent), I went into Wood Street, which 
runs out of Brown Street, to mission, several friends being with me. When I got 
up to preach I looked at the people, and cried out : ' You are a sorry set, without 
comfort and character ; no credit, for nobody will trust you a farthing. Now, 
I'm here as your friend ; and I'll tell you a way in which you may, in twelve 

*" Jonathan Ireland, the Street Preacher. An Autobiography." Edited by Rev. J. Simpson, 
his son-in-law. 


months have a good suit of clothes, goods in your home, money in your pockets, 
and comfort in your families.' This got hold of their minds; and I held them 
fast while I preached Jesus unto them. I had to preach that same morning in 
the room [in Salford]. When I had finished in the street I invited all to go 
with me just as they were. Many yielded, so I gave them a second edition. 
But while I had been engaged outside a man came up, and calling one of the 
members to him, he said : ' I'm glad I've met with you this morning. Your singing 
attracted me ; for I was on the way to the old river, where, in some secret spot, 
I might end my miserable life by cutting my throat. Take this,' said the man, 
handing forward a razor, ' for if you have it I shall have one temptation less 
to grapple with.'" (p.. 41). 

But even before the establishment of the Salford mission there already existed 
another mission-centre in Oxford Road. First a small cottage, then a small cellar, 
then a room over some stables, next a larger room once used by the Tent-Methodists. 
Such was the order. On the opening of this room, while Thomas Sugden was leading 
the love-feast, the floor fell in, and the story goes that the mishap occurred while all 
were lustily singing, "We are going home to glory." One man was injured, and 
many were frightened. The next remove was to a building in Ormond Street, vacated 
by the Wesleyans for their new chapel in Oxford Road. Ultimately this was exchanged 
for Rosamond Street Chapel, which for many years stood as the head of Manchester 
Second Circuit, now Moss Lane. 

Yet a third mission was begun in these formative years, in a room over three houses in 
Ashton Street, London Road now swept away by the London Road Station. The 
friend who had leased the room to the society at a low rental, at his death left the sum 
of 130 for a new chapel, "if a new chapel should ever be required by the Primitive 
Methodist denomination in Manchester " ! another proof of the doubt as to the per- 
petuity of the Connexion that crossed arid troubled the minds at that time, even of those 
who were friendly disposed. Mr. Chadwick's legacy came in useful as a kind of nest- 
egg. More chapels ivere built in Manchester, as our full-page illustration shows, and 
there are more to follow. Ogden Street Chapel, opened in 1850, superseded Ashton 
Street room, and from this has grown Manchester Fourth and Ninth Stations, with the 
exception of Droylesden, taken from Stockport Second and attached to Manchester 
Ninth, on its formation in 1893. Good Mr. Chadwick's doubts as to whether the 
Primitives would ever build a new ch.apel in Manchester, have had their answer in 
Higher Ardwick Church, opened in 1878 ; and there was a natural sequence between 
the 15,000 expended on that stately pile and the 130 he somewhat timorously put 
down in his last will and testament. Thus, while a survey of the denomination's 
advance in Manchester during recent years, especially in its relation to ministerial 
education and training, will naturally challenge our attention later on, it was right 
that we should, even at this stage, at least indicate the thread of continuity running 
through our Connexional life in this great city. What we now see is largely the , 
outcome of the missionary efforts carried on so vigorously during the first period. 

We began with Manchester at the New Cross, and, so far as Manchester itself is 
concerned, we may fittingly end there. " The New Cross (open air) " stands as the 
second place on a plan for 1832, and a Sunday afternoon service was held where the old 





pillar once stood, right on until the days of the Chartist agitation, when the authorities 
put their veto on al fresco meetings political or religious at that favourite stand. 
The magisterial mind of that epoch could not make subtle distinctions. 

It was by lingering at one of these New Cross services when returning from Oldham 




Street Wesleyan Chapel, which they attended, that Nathaniel Naylor and his wife fell 
in love with the Primitives. They thought it right to join the denomination, and 
became active workers and liberal supporters of the Jersey Street and New Islington 
societies. The youngest daughter of the house became the wife of Thomas Hindley, so 
widely known and respected as a minister in the Manchester District. There are other 
names of early workers, that ought to be more than names to us, but space forbids little 
more than the mention of them. There were : John Turner, for many years the 
courteous, prudent, efficient choir-master ; Thomas Sharrock, an early Sunday School 
superintendent, much beloved, though he had an awe-inspiring presence and the reputa- 
tion of knowing more than most ; W. Williams, Thomas Sugden's successor in the 
confectionery business, circuit secretary and afterwards steward, a thoughtful, acceptable 
preacher, and a good District and Connexional man, at whose house, in Ancoat's Lane, 
ministers and friends from a distance would drop in for rest and talk ; Samuel Johnson, 
a local preacher for many years, a man of wide reading and large outlook, whose 
discourses were listened to with interest and profit by many Lancashire congrega- 
tions ; Barnabas Parker, Charles Malpas also, 
and Job Williams, and Eachel Whitehead, 
and John Crompton, and Charles Taylor, who, 
in their several spheres, lived the Christian 
life and served the interests of Jersey Street 

This brief chronicle of departed worth may 
pleasantly end with a reference to good but 
eccentric David Bailey, of whose devotion 
and oddities tradition still loves to speak. 
He would " shut to the door " even of his 
shop while he retired for prayer, and so 
immersed himself in evangelistic work that his brethren feared his business would 
suffer; he was a dealer in earthenware near Shudehill Market, and his superin- 





tendent was appointed to admonish him. "David," said Rev. W. Antliff, "are you 
never afraid you'll break 1 " " Break ? " said " Pot " David ; " not till the fiftieth Psalm 
breaks at the fifteenth verse, ' Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver 
thee.'" The answer was distinctly good, though it is to be feared David put a strain 
upon the promise it was never intended to bear. 


Though, for the time being, we have done with Manchester city, we have not 
quite done with Manchester Circuit. At first, as has already been intimated 



Manchester Circuit was almost the first rough draft of the 
Manchester District of to-day. Important circuits were formed 
from it at an early date ; but at present our concern is not with 
these, but rather with one or two places that were missioned 
at an early date and continued to be an integral part of the 
Manchester Circuit all through the first period, though now, in 
nearly every case, they have become heads of circuits. 

Sale, we are told, was missioned as early as 1824-5. At 
that time the people around were " uncommonly rough and igno- 
rant," and being chiefly employed in market-gardening, domestic 




work was left over until the Sunday. The mission to Sale was opened by a notable 
camp-meeting held in a hired field. Early in the day the converting work 
broke out, and the number of mourners was so great that a corner of the field 

was set apart for the holding of a continuous prayer meeting 
while the camp-meeting was still going on. This corner, 
appropriately named "the hospital," was placed under the 
superintendence of Thomas Buttler, a man of experience, 
who single-handed did much successful pioneer work in 
the country-side. " This day's labour led to results 
which were felt all over the neighbourhood. A visible 
reformation of manners followed." A Primitive Methodist 
society was formed, and "the Wesleyans were quickened 
and became prosperous."* A school chapel was erected 
in 1839, and the present church and school in 1872. 
The greater part of the manual and team labour involved 
in the taking down of the old building was undertaken 
by those most deeply interested in the work, amongst 
whom may be named, the Bellis family, Messrs. James Oakes, Samuel Derbyshire, 
and John E. Wright. The last named, from the time of his joining the Church, 
to his death in 1890, conscientiously fulfilled the duties of his various offices. 

Sale will always be associated with the memory of James Garner, one of the most 
massive and outstanding figures of the Manchester District. By virtue of a rare 
combination of qualities he was equally eminent in the pulpit, the committee room, 
the floor of Conference, the presidential chair, and the author's desk. Thirty- four 
out of the ' thirty-six years of his circuit ministry were spent in the old Manchester 
District, and about one half of these in the cities of 
Liverpool and Manchester. He began his ministry 
in 1830 as the junior colleague of his brother, 
John Garner, in the Oldham Circuit, and it was 
at the Oldham Conference of 1871 he was super- 
annuated. He spent the remainder of his days at 
Sale, where his son-in-law, Mr. James Greenhalgh, 
accountant and Connexional auditor, resided. He 
was superintendent at the time the first chapel at 
Sale ' was built, and he took a deep and practical in- 
terest in the building of the present church. Before 
the end came, December, 1895, in a momentary lapse, 
he was heard to say : " Well, Mr. Bourne, I am 
glad to see you. How is the Connexion doing ? " 
Consciousness had harked back to the- early times, and 
the master-passion of life was strong in death. 

On the Manchester Circuit plan for 1832 we find, amongst other places, Mosley 
Common, Walkden Moor, Middleton, Unsworth, and Stretford ; and, now and again, 

* See " Jonathan Ireland, the Street Preacher," for the quotations given in this paragraph. 



an incident can be recovered having its value as illustrating the missionary activity 
going on in these localities. At Walkden Moor, one of the first trophies of grace to 
be won was H. Gibson. Ill at ease under what seems to have been incipient 
conviction of sin, he had enlisted into the First Life Guards, thinking that surely 
so complete a change as this would give him peace. But he was no happier at 
Whitehall than at Walkden Moor, and he was glad when, his father having purchased 
his discharge, he was free to return to his home. His old acquaintances welcomed 
him effusively, and he was soon enticed to match his bird at a cock-fight for ten 
shillings a side. His bird lay dying on the floor and, as he knelt before it, it came 
to him in a flash how he had knelt in the stable at Whitehall and promised God that 
if He would deliver him from soldiering he would lead a better life. He had broken 
his vow ; but perhaps it was not yet too late. He would keep it now. He rose, 
threw down his money, and fled from the pandemonium. His pals pursued him 
with entreaties to return, but, like Pilgrim escaping from the City of Destruction, 
he hastened away, crying, " No, no ! Farewell, cock-pit ! " Not even yet did Gibson 
find peace. Like John Oxtoby, he was a Churchman of a kind, and Mr. Cry, the 
curate, prescribed for him: "Attend the church and sacraments regularly"; for is 
not that the whole duty of man? Then, hearing that J. Verity was to preach at 
"old Charlotte's" at Waterbeach, Gibson went to the service, but instead of Verity 
he heard a labouring man "with blue hands," who showed him his own heart, and 
what it was that really ailed him. H. Gibson was converted, held on his way, and 
became a local preacher. 

At Middleton (since 1872 the head of a circuit), the first chapel-keeper was 
John Taylor, who had been a notorious pigeon-flyer and "hush-seller," i.e., keeper 
of an unlicensed beer-house. He was reached by some straight talk at an open-air 
service, at the outskirts of which the pigeon-flyers were standing discussing to-morrow's 
match. Jonathan Ireland, who delighted in facts, was telling the story of this man's 
conversion, at a missionary meeting in Jersey Street some time after, when Taylor rose 
up before him in the congregation and shouted, "I'm the man." 

The way into Gatley (now in the Stockport Circuit), we are told, was opened by 
Thomas Buttler, whom we have seen superintending the " hospital " at the first camp- 
meeting at Sale. Buttler went about the country prospecting, seeking the most likely 
places in which to open a mission. As he rode his ass from village to village, he 
claimed exemption from paying toll on the ground that he was doing the Lord's work. 
If, on the Sabbath, he heard the loom at work in a house as he went along, he would 
enter and rebuke the Sabbath-breaker. Buttler found his way to Gatley; and the 
result of our labours there was a great reformation, which led the farmers to say : 
" These people deserve encouragement, for since they came our apples are not stolen, 
nor our hedges broken down." 


Such missionary anecdotes as these show the kind of work that went on in the early 
days, and the kind of work that, above all, needed to be done ; and here in Lancashire 
we are struck, as we were in writing of the Leicestershire revival, with the prodigious 



numbers the missionaries got to hear them, and with the almost entire absence of 
persecution. At Bolton at the stocks and in the wood-yard where the first services 
were held, at Ash ton Town Cross, at Astley, at Oldham. in fact wherever the 
missionaries went, they had no difficulty in gathering congregations. In the estimates 
of numbers given the word thousands occurs much more frequently than hundreds. 
" Preach ! preach ! " was the cry raised at Ashton Cross when, for a moment, the 
backslidden constable had silenced "Walton Carter. The people were hungry for the 
Word and would not be denied, so that Carter had to gather himself together and 
preach, despite his torn coat and the constable's threats. Here too, as elsewhere, 
facts go to show that the hymns the missionaries sang counted for much in making 


their street-missioning and open-air services acceptable 
and effective. Our fathers knew the power there is in 
a taking melody, and were not slow to avail themselves of 
this power. Like William Jefferson, they did not see why 
the devil should have all the best tunes, and so did 
their best to carry off the spoil. " The Lion of Judah " 
was only one of many tunes thus requisitioned. One 
evening, when the eccentric Henry Higgenson was on his 
way to a tea meeting at Walsall, he heard a lad singing 
a song which attracted him. " Here, my lad, sing that 
again, and I'll give thee a penny." The lad did as he 
REV. HENRY HIGGENSON. was told, more than once. " Here you are,, my man," said 
Higgenson, throwing him the penny ; " I've got the tune, and the devil may take the 


words." The policy, if it were policy and not rather a sure instinct, was justified by its 
results, and perhaps nowhere more than in Lancashire, as Jonathan Ireland clearly admits. 
The admission may well be given in his own words, as the remarks show considerable 
acuteness, and contain a kindly reference to Kichard Jukes, who, although he was 
a prolific and popular hymn-writer of his day, is in some danger of being forgotten : 

" Before the Primitive Methodists came to this city [Manchester], and for some 
time after, it was very common to hear lewd or ribald songs sung in the streets, 
especially on the Lord's day. But our movements drove them away by putting some- 
thing better in their place. We used to pick up the most effective tunes we heard, 
and put them to our hymns ; and at our camp-meetings people, chiefly young 
ones, used to run up to hear us, thinking we were singing a favourite song. But 
they were disappointed therein ; nevertheless, they were arrested and often 
charmed by the hymn, which at times went with power to their hearts. And so 
the words of the hymn put aside the words of the song. It will show the utility 
of singing lively hymns in the streets ; yea, more particularly, it will show the 
use to society in general of our hymn-singing in the streets, if I here relate 
a fact which was told me by a friend on whose veracity and accuracy I can place 
reliance. He said : 'I was one day in a hair-dresser's shop in a country village, 
when a man came in to be shaved, having a handful of printed hymns, which 
he had been singing and selling in the streets. I entered into conversation with 
him, in course of which he said : "Your Jukes has been a good friend to us street- 
singers ; I have sung lots of his hymns, and made many a bright shilling thereby. 
People generally would rather hear a nice hymn sung, than a foolish song, and 
his hymns are full of sympathy and life. Depend on it, the singing of hymns in 
the streets has done a deal of good ; for children stand to listen to us, and they 
get hold of a few lines, or of the chorus ; and with the tune, or as much of it as 
they can think of, they run home, and for days they sing it in their homes, and 
their mothers and sisters get hold of it, and in this way, I maintain, OUF hymn- 
singing is of more use than many folks think. I shall always think well of 
Jukes," concluded the man." 

What Primitive Methodist will not heartily concur in this conclusion of the 
philosophic street singer? "Jukes' hymns have been sung from one end of the 
Connexion to the other, by tramps in the street and Christians in the chapels ; and 
the late Dr. Massie says, the hymn entitled, ' What's the News,' &c., has been sung 
and repeated in the great Kevival in Ireland."* George Herbert 
told us long since that: 

" A verse may find him who a sermon flies." 

And popular, sacred songs are the most volatile and penetrating 
agents of religious propagandism, the more powerful because 
their power is unsuspected. They float on the breeze like the 
thistle-down, and like it they carry their seed with them. It is 
a simple yet sufficient illustration of this far-reaching, penetrative 
power of the verse which John Coulson relates. When, in 1819, 
on his way to Hull to seek out W. Clowes and the Primitives, he 
called at a house of entertainment at Mansfield. A sweep was 

* Rev. J. Harvey, " Jubilee of Primitive Methodism," 1861. 


sitting turning over the leaves of a dingy pamphlet, to whom presently came the 
hostess, with the words : " Robert, you must sing that hymn with the hallelujahs at 
the end of it; for the children will not go to school until they hear it." The 
sweep stood up and sang: 

" Come, oh come, thou vilest sinner ; 
Christ is ready to receive; 
Weak and wounded, sick and sore, 
Jesus' balm can cure more. 
Hallelujah, hallelujah, 
Hallelujah to the Lamb ! " 

We are not sure whether a still higher claim cannot be put forth for the open-air 
hymn-singing of Primitive Methodism from sixty to eighty years ago. Not even yet 
can England be called with the same truth as can other countries that might be named 
the land of song. One of the impressions the foreigner gets of London is that, 
despite the constant roar of traffic, the people are strangely silent. But, if we 
are to believe Thomas Mozley,* the England of 1820 was distinguished neither for its 
songfulness nor for its silence, but for a vocal expression which had no gladness in it, 
and which he himself thus describes : 

" I will content myself with one point of contrast between England as it now 
is and England as it was two, indeed I might now say three generations ago. 
It has forced itself upon me so often that I should hardly do justice to myself 
if I did not declare it. In my younger days there was heard everywhere and at 
all hours the voice of lamentation and passion, not always from the young, not 
always even from the very poor. In towns and villages, in streets and in houses, 
in nurseries and in schools, and even on the road, there were heard continually 
screams, prolonged wailings, indignant remonstrances, and angry altercations, as 
if the earth were full of violence, and the hearts of fathers were set against 
their children, and the hearts of children against their fathers. No doubt it was 
so in the time of the poet who filled the vestibule of hell with squalling children. 
But, as I have said, these were not all children who brawled or lamented in the 
open air and in the mid-day, filling the air with their grievances, and resolved, 
as they could not be happy themselves, none else should be. Such a picture would 
be pronounced at once utterly inapplicable to the times we now live in, but I leave 
it to almost any octogenarian to say whether it be not a true account of England 
as it was sixty or seventy years ago." 

The picture drawn by Mozley of England as he knew it in 1820, dark though it be, 
is not, we are convinced, overcharged with sepia. " Merry England " was a designation 
sadly inappropriate to our land before the repeal of the Corn Laws. What the 
Psalmist so much deprecated had befallen us; there icas "complaining in our streets." 
Hence the open-air songs of the new evangel breathing hope and promising deliverance 

* See the chapter on " England in 1820 and England in 1884," in Vol. II. of his " Beminiscences, 
chiefly of Villages, Towns, and Schools." Thomas Mozley was a brother of Canon Mozley, the 
theologian, a relative of Cardinal Newman, and a prolific leader-writer on the Times. He died 
in 1893, in the eighty-third year of his age, so that, in giving his impressions of the England of 
1820 (the year Primitive Methodism was introduced into Manchester), he was writing of what was 
well within his own knowledge. 


came as a startling novelty, and no wonder men flocked to listen. And if now Mozley's 
picture held up to the present would appear the veriest caricature, we should rejoice 
that our Church has greatly helped to destroy its verisimilitude. As we pass along 
the streets of the working-class quarter of our towns and cities we 
hear the Salvation Army band, and from many a lighted window 
we catch the sound of familiar hymn. Sacred song, like bread, 
is cheap and common now, we say. It was not always so, and 
we have done something to give sacred song its vogue. 


By 1843 the Manchester Circuit of 1821 had come to be 
represented by a group of direct and indirect descendants 
seven in number. As the result of a process of division and 

LATE MR. E. LOMAX, .,... . , ..,. ., v J J 1 J-.L 

BOLTON. sub-division plus extension, the original circuit had developed into 

the Bolton, Oldham, Isle of Man, Stockport, Bury, Rochdale, and Stalybridge 
Circuits. Let us rapidly follow the main lines of this development. 

Bolton was granted circuit independence, June, 1822. J. Verity was here on 
June 24th, 1821, when he writes of preaching to three thousand people, joining 
twenty to the society, and notes that there is "an appearance of a great work." 
Just a month after he is at a camp-meeting, and leads a love-feast in the Cloth Hall. 
On August 19th he preaches three times in the open air, having, it was said, a 
congregation of five thousand people. Two days after, he is collecting for the fitting 
up of a large room, and meets with "amazing success." He is greatly encouraged 
by a gift of sixteen shillings from a number of mechanics. They were just about 
to have a " footing " carouse, when an " influence which could only proceed from 
Almighty God caused them to deny themselves," and devote the money to the "poor 
Ranters," as they called them. Verity closes his labours at Bolton by forming 
a Leaders' Meeting, and at this time, August 24th, reports that there are nine classes 
and one hundred and sixty members. Progress is marked by the opening, on 
September 3rd, of the large room by Walton. Carter as preacher, and though it was 
a week evening, he had a congregation of eleven or twelve 
hundred people. It is noteworthy that when Bolton was made 
a circuit no other place was associated with it, hence, as two 
preachers are on the station in 1823, and five hundred members 
are reported, it is clear that other adjacent places must soon have 
been missioned. 

In this same year, 1822, a brick chapel was erected in 
Xewport Street, and a congregation continued to worship there 
until 1865, when a chapel was purchased from the Baptists in 
Moor Lane, now the head of Bolton Second. The present 
Higher Bridge Street Chapel, the head of Bolton First Circuit, LATE MBS. BKBBY. 
was erected in 1870 at a cost of 6,588. It occupies the site acquired as far back 
as 1836 by Samuel Tillotson, on which a plain, substantial building was erected, 
flanked on either side by a house (in one of which the preacher resided), and having 

c 2 



H burial-ground in front. In 1868 a school was built in the rear~'of the 1 chapel, and 
the years brought other changes to the property, the most serious being decrepitude 
a tendency to fall. The insecurity of the structure led to the erection, during the 
vigorous superintendency of the Rev. James Travis, of the chapel shown in our 
picture. In 1893 the school premises were entirely re-modelled. 

All the facts go to show that from the first, Bolton, like other Lancashire towns, 
took kindly to Primitive Methodism. " Took kindly " is scarcely the word. It would 
be nearer the truth to say it eagerly, almost fiercely welcomed it. Bolton and 
Primitive Methodism gripped each other. The first Minute Book of the Manchester 


Circuit shows that before the close of 1821 there were more members in Bolton 
than in Manchester itself, the numbers being 321 and 211 respectively. The 
young circuit was vigorous and enterprising. Probably the story is mythical which 
tells how the Bolton Quarterly Meeting having, s when all expenses were met, 
a balance of sixpence, forthwith resolved, on the strength of that sixpence, to call 
out an additional preacher, who was none other than James Austin Bastow. But 
the Bolton Circuit officials, some of whose portraits are given, were just the men 
to venture much and win, as they assuredly did, if the story of their calling out 




Mr. Bastow be true. But, be this as it may, the Bolton Circuit had the courage 
of faith in resolving, six months after its becoming a circuit, to send John Butcher 
as a missionary to the Isle of Man. Probably it is without a parallel that mother 
and daughter-circuits should come on the 
stations together, as was the case with 
Bolton and Castletown, Isle of Man, in the 
Conference Minutes of 1823. 

John Butcher landed at Derby Haven, 
and "opened his mission in nearly the first 
house he came to." A Mr. Kelly, we are told, 
received him into his house, for which act of 
good-will he was unchurched by the denomi- 
nation to which he belonged. The mission- 
ary's Journal shows that he began his labours 
at Castletown on Friday, January 10th, 
1823, and that he went on holding services at Colby, Ballasalla, Howe, Port John, 
and other places in the south-west of the island. 

In this Manx Mission of the Bolton Circuit we have an early and normal example 
of the Circuit-mission. By this is meant that the circuit has looked beyond its own 
doors and, assuming the functions and responsibilities of a missionary executive, has 
conceived the plan of sending its accredited agent to some more distant sphere. The 
mission is the outpost to which the circuit serves as the base. Thus regarded, the mission 
to the Isle of Man was the boldest thing a Primitive Methodist circuit had as yet 
attempted. It anticipated the Irish missions by ten, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow 

missions by four years. Leeds' 
mission to London, which took 
place about the same time, is 
the only instance we can recall 
that can be compared with 
it for boldness. The London 
mission was a venture that 
failed ; the Manx mission suc- 
ceeded. And yet, in some 
respects, the latter was the 
bigger venture ; for the Isle 
of Man, though not far away 
as mere miles count, was over- 
sea, and Mona was then, much 

PRESENT CHAPEL AT HARWOOD, BOLTON. more than it ig noWj & little 

kingdom apart, with its own customs and laws and even language, so that it was 
something of the[nature of an experiment whether Primitive Methodism would commend 
itself to these islanders of Celtic race, and take hold of their rich and fervid nature. 
The experiment succeeded. The evangel the two Butchers the son soon joining 
the father had to offer fitted the Manx people as perfectly as the ball fits its 



socket. There was scarcely the shadow of persecution, unless the occasional 
exhibition of suspicion and prejudice may be counted such. "As we sang through 
the town some cried, ' Shame ! shame ! ' We get nothing much worse than this. And 
on the other hand, we hear many more saying, 'It is like the old times, when the 
Methodists first came to the Island.' " They recognised and welcomed the primitiveness 
of the Methodism brought them. How the work spread in this coiner of the island 
during these first months of the year may be gathered from a joint-letter written on 
May 5th from Kirk Arbory, and addressed : " Dear brethren and fathers in the 
Gospel." The letter, of which unfortunately only the initials of the signatories are 
given, is a document that cannot well be omitted. 

" We have the pleasure of informing you that the preachers you have sent over 
to us have, by their preaching and the blessing of Almighty God, been rendered 
instrumental in the salvation of many souls. We have now in society about two 
hundred members, and the work appears to be prosperous, and as if it were just 
beginning ; for the people flock to hear them, ' as doves to their windows,' from 
the distance of four or five miles, and are crying, ' Come, preach for us.' But as 
we have but two preachers, they can only compass about twelve or fourteen miles 
in length, on one side of the Island. And as we have no local preachers, we cannot 
reach the places as we could wish. We have some who are nearly ready for 
exhorters. We have begun to have some prayer meetings, and they are a great 
blessing unto us. 

" We have begun preaching at Douglas ; one of our preachers has preached 

there at the market-place these five 
Sabbaths last past, and the services 
have been attended by amazingly large 

" We remain, in the bonds of love and 

"A. C.; J. G. ; J. C. ; C. C." 

At Midsummer, Henry Sharman was 
added to the staff of preachers, and from 
his Journal it is clear that already the 
towns of Douglas and Peel had been 
fastened upon and made the strategic 
points for further evangelistic labours. 
During the remainder of the year, 
Sharman had his " rounds," foreshadow- 
ing the branches and circuits of a later 
time. First, we find him labouring on the 
Castletown side, and then, after a time, 
he goes into the Douglas "round," 
which included Laxey. It is interesting 
to note that Thomas Steele was very 
helpful to Sharman while he was in 
this part. He records that " he has been 



made a blessing to our society in the Island," and that " we preachers believe the Lord 
sent him." Finally, Sharman goes for a month to more distant Peel, "a place noted 
for its wickedness and hardness, which gave him some concern." Land had already 
been secured for a chapel at Douglas. Just before the Christmas of 1823 Castletown 
chapel was opened ; four other chapels are said to be in course of erection, and the 
number of members in the Island is reported as six hundred and forty-three. 

For two years only Castletown stands on the stations, then it is simply " Isle of 
Man." Evidently Douglas soon began to take the lead, and became the residence 
of the superintendent. In 1842, differentiation began to show itself. We have 
Douglas; Eamsey Branch; and Peel Mission. In 1849, Ramsey is a circuit, with 
Peel as its branch; later, Peel is re-absorbed. In 1851, Castletown is a branch; and, 
in 1868, both Castletown and Peel have become independent stations. Finally, when, 
in 1887, Laxey was made a station, the present number and order of stations were 
arrived at. These changes reflect the vicissitudes through which our Church in the 
Island has passed, and the numerical returns bear similar witness. In 1832, the 
number of members given is 339 ; next year the number is 1,000, which is also that 
of 1842 ; but, in 1837, the number had sunk to 756. It is singular that our present 
numerical position in the Island is practically the same as in 1842, viz., 1,089, while 
the number of ministers is also the same. Seasons of spiritual declension alternating 
with seasons of revival do not altogether, or perhaps even mainly, account for these 
fluctuations. Of course they have operated and left their mark on the periodic 
returns. But the chief explanation will probably be found in the action, more or less 
acute, of economic and industrial conditions determining the flow of emigration from 
the Island, which has right along been a serious hindrance to the steady advance of 
the societies. Yet, despite this hindrance, the Isle of Man still contributes one-ninth 
part of the total membership of the Liverpool District, and it has strongly rooted 
itself in the religious and social life of the Island, as the advance the Church has made 
on the material side during late years strikingly shows. Illustrations of this later 
phase of our history we hope to give hereafter ; but, even confining ourselves to the 
earlier period, Bolton's mission to the Isle of Man must be pronounced a success 
both in its direct and indirect results. Names which at once betray their Manx 
origin are found on the muster-roll of our workers, past and 
present, both in the Isle and out of it. They stand side by side 
with the plain Saxon patronymics we know so well. The blend 
and association of racial qualities in Christian communion and 
service thus indicated has been all for good. Names such as 
Clucos, and Quayle, and Cain are unmistakeably Manx, and they 
are the names of some out of many who might be named, who 
served the- interests of our Church in the Island during the 
earlier days. Philip Clucos (born 1809, died 1885) was a noted 
pioneer worker and evangelist in his day, and as such he traversed 
MR. PHILIP CLUCOS. the I slan(i > winning many converts. The hospitality of the 
Quayles, of Glenmaye of which society Mrs. Quayle was 
the first member is reported of to this day. Of John Cain, of Rinshent, Foxdale, 



it is said he opened his house for services, and when the farm-kitchen was too small 
he fitted up his barn. He was the leading spirit in the erection of the first chapel 
at Foxdale. His house was always open to the servants of God, and his horses at 


their disposal to lighten their journeys. Through the biographies in the Magazine* 
we get glimpses of other early workers and befrienders of the Cause. There are 
Jane Cubbon, who welcomed John Butcher to her father's house at Colby ; 
Patrick Cannal, one of his first converts at Kirk Michael, and trustee and steward of 
the chapel built in 1824; Ann Quirk, who united with the first class at Douglas, and 
Ann Kaown, " whose house was unspeakably valuable in the introduction of Primitive 


Methodism into Douglas ; John Corlett, local preacher, who, as a sailor, during ten 
years preached in the Shetland Isles, at the ports of Scotland and Ireland, and was 
afterwards for three years a devoted town missionary at Douglas; John Clague, of 
Ramsey Circuit, who preached for twenty-one years in his native Manx, and Robert 


Tear, also of the same circuit, "whose addresses, principally given in his native tongue, 
were full of originality, pointed, homely and pious, aptly illustrated by references to 
agricultural customs." 

Returning to Bolton Circuit. In December, 1823, Henry Sharman writes: "We 
were enabled to send the money we owed to Bolton Circuit, and were very little short 
in paying all besides." So that not only was Bolton nothing out of pocket by its 
venture, but it had also the satisfaction of knowing that by its enterprise it had 
added a miniature kingdom to the Connexion, and set a worthy example before other 
circuits. Besides the Isle of Man, other circuits have, during the course of years, 
been formed from Bolton, viz., Bury, Bolton Second, Darwen, Leigh, Hey wood, and 
Horwich. Of these successive changes in internal administration, the first only falls 
within the first period. In the first Minute Book of the Manchester Circuit, Bury 
has only six members, from which fact it may be inferred that at the close of 1821 
Bury had but just been missioned. In 1835, Bury stands on the Bolton plan as 
a branch with some fifteen places, including Edenfield, Ramsbottom, Heywood, 
Chadderton, Summerseat, and Ratcliffe. At the Conference of 1836 it became an 
independent station, with one minister and two hundred and sixty-two members. 


Oldham was missioned about the same time as Bolton, and here also "thousands 
crowded to hear the Word of life in the open-air." There is no need to discount 
these words of Verity's as though they were merely a rhetorical exaggeration. Unless 
everybody has conspired to deceive us, Oldham camp-meetings down to, and even 
beyond, the middle of last century were noted for the immense throngs attending 
them. The Rev. W. Antliff, who spent five of the most influential years of his 
ministry in Oldham (1857-61), tells us that the Oldham Whitsunday camp-meeting, 
held on Oldham Edge, was one of the largest in that part of the kingdom. He gives 
the probable numbers present in 1861 as ten thousand ; for that of 1858, his predecessor, 
Miles Dickenson, gives the estimate of fifteen thousand. But it is only fair to say 
that the traditional estimates of the numbers brought together at some of these annual 
gatherings go far beyond these figures. It almost seems as though the first Oldham 
camp-meeting of May 19th, 1822, had set the pattern for all subsequent ones. The 
site of the Oldham gathering on this famous camp-meeting Sunday of which we 
wish we could have had a census of attendance and the number of professing 
converts was at Bardsley, in a field lent by Mr. Brierley, of the Fir Trees Farm. 
The services were carried on entirely by Manchester men, of whom Walton Carter 
was the leader. Fourteen thousand people were said to have been present ; there 
were two preaching-stands, five praying companies, and two permanent ones. Carter 
says of this notable gathering : " People of all denominations received it with appro- 
bation ; while the attention of the multitude was arrested, and the hearts of many 
were inspired with zeal for the Lord of hosts." 

This Pentecostal day, however, did not found the church at Oldham though it 
did strengthen it and add to its numbers. A class had previously been formed at 
Brook, near Bardsley, with James Wild and R. Ashworth as its leaders ; and a second 




at Oldham, of which Peter Macdonald and F. Mannock were put in charge. Peter 
Macdonald graduated for the position of first leader through Roman Catholicism and 
Methodism. If Jonathan Ireland had, for his soul's good, rung the church bells ; 
Peter Macdonald had, as an acolyte, tinkled the bells at the celebration f mass, in 
his native county of Carlow. But he got his mind enlightened when he came to 
England to follow his trade, abjured the errors of Romanism, and, like others here- 
about, passed through Methodism to join the new revival movement, which both 
suited him well and, as he thought, needed what help he could give. His life, 
culminating in a triumphant death in 1835, was written by Samuel Atterby, and 
might profitably be reprinted by Oldham Primitives. Besides the officials of the 
first generation already named, mention may be made of James Taylor, a convert of 
Thomas Aspinall in 1823, "one of the first and fastest friends of Primitive Methodism 
in the town"; J. Kent, Circuit Steward from 1829 to 1838; and W. Winterbottom, 
of Shore Edge, who was present at the first camp-meeting, and a local preacher from 
1828 until his death about 1880. 

It was in 1862 that Oldham was divided into Oldham First and Second Circuits, 
the latter with Lees Road as its head, including also Lees, Bardsley, Waterhead, 
Elliott Street, Delph, and Hollinwood. Regarding this as our goal for the time being, 
two lines of development as leading up to it are distinctly traceable as early as 1821. 
These are set before us in the entry in the first Minute Book of the Manchester 
Circuit: "Mumps and Oldham 160 members." The Oldham line is comparatively 
simple and direct; the other, starting from Mumps and ending in Lees Road, is as 
zig-zag as pictured lightning. Oldham's first humble domicile was a stable in Duke 
Street ; the next, a room in Grosvenor Street, which, becoming too small, was vacated 
for a small chapel in the same street, built about 1826 ; then in 1832, during 
the superintendency of William Taylor, a much larger building was erected in 
Boardman Street, which for a good many years was Oldham's principal chapel. As for 
the other society, like Moab, it seems to have been emptied from vessel to vessel and 
not allowed to settle on its lees. From whatever causes, it had to shift its quarters 
several times before it acquired a location with anything like fixity of tenure. This 
was in a measure accomplished when, in 1830, a room in Vineyard Street was acquired, 
which for ten years served for public worship and Sabbath School teaching. 

1825 and 1826 "those years the locust hath eaten" seem 
to have been at Oldham, as they were elsewhere, a time of trial 
and waste. There are eight preaching-places fewer on the plan 
than before, and the number of local preachers is reduced by six. 
But under the vigorous and methodical ministry of F. N. Jersey 
and his colleagues, the aspect of things somewhat brightened, 
and the two years 1829-31 John Garner spent in the circuit 
were remarkable for their prosperity. He was then in the bloom 
and vigour of his manhood, and at the zenith of his ministerial 
power. James Garner was called out as an additional preacher. 
MR. j. LONGLEY. Not only was Vineyard Street acquired, but in 1831 a chapel 

Oldham Second Circuit. j , TT ,-,. j -r J.T j. JM. j 

was opened at Hollinwood. Just thirty years alter, a second 


chapel was built at Hollinwood, and since 1880 it has stood at the head of 
Oldham Third Circuit. We gather that the revival which resulted in adding 
two hundred members to the circuit membership during these two years was marked 
by certain " peculiar features," not clearly specified by John Garner's biographer. 
"Writing with an almost provoking reticence, he says : " Certain peculiar features of 
the work excited, in his observing mind, a degree of apprehension. He narrowly 
watched the movements of the parties who acted prominent parts in the public 
religious services. And as he believed them to be persons of real worth, and influenced 
by sincere motives, he honoured them with his confidence, and was thankful for their 
hearty co-operation." In these words, the biographer rather timidly glances at some of 
those physical manifestations of highly-wrought religious feeling that not unfrequently 
showed themselves in early Methodism, and were not altogether unknown in the 
beginning of our own Connexional history. Sometimes these manifestations took 
the form of fallings ; at other times their subject would go into trance conditions, 
or, yet again, would leap or dance. The "peculiar features "of the Oldham revival 
took the form last named, as Jonathan Ireland tells us. They in Manchester heard 
rumours of what was going on in Oldham, and determined to see for themselves 
whether rumour spoke truly. Probably they timed their visit so as to be present at 
the quarterly love-feast held December 13th, 1829, at which, says John Garner in 
his Journal, " many from Manchester and other places attended ; the chapel [Grosvenor 
Street] was crowded, and sixteen persons professed to have been made happy in the 
Lord during the day." Ireland speaks without reserve of the manifestations reported 
of at Manchester. "We had not been long in the chapel when the jumping began. 
It soon spread, and became general all over the chapel. But Mr. John Garner said : 
'If you don't like this sort of work, you can take your hats and leave us.' " It should 
be noted as a fact of much importance that Ireland distinctly states this saltatory 
habit was " confined to the best and most devoted members of the society." No 
doubt Mr. Garner would rather have had the gracious influences without these 
accompaniments ; but he was a shrewd man, and, though he had kept careful watch, 
he could detect neither imposture nor characterless fanaticism in these phenomena. 
Hence he was chary of rebuke, lest haply he should root up 
the wheat with the tares. 

On February 14th, 1836, the streets of Oldham saw a busy and 
every way primitive sight, interesting to us as showing that the 
traits so characteristic of Hugh Bourne were as strongly marked 
as ever, though he was now in the sixty-fourth year of his age. 
In the morning * he , had, led a class, shaken hands with all the 
Sunday school scholars, and then preached to them in Boardman 
Street Chapel ; and now, in the afternoon, he was heading a pro- 
cession after his own heart. There were seven stoppages for prayer, 
MR. LUKE NIKLD. a nd H. B. preached seven one-minute-and-a-half sermons, plain, 
mt> pointed, and, for the sake of the children, containing references 
to the power of divine grace as able to 'take the naughty out of their hearts, and 
to save them from Satan and his blue flames.' All this he describes with evident zest, 


and the description is blended with counsel as to the right ordering of such services, 
and models of the right kind of one-minute sermons are given ; and then he turns to 
tell, with wonderful naivete and simplicity, the incident of the child that was his com- 
panion throughout this processionary service : 

"A little matter took place, which drew great attention. When we had been 
moving for some time, I happened to turn my head, and was aware of a little 
girl, of about three or four years of age, having hold of my coat, and walking 
by my side in an orderly manner. This a little surprised me. I put her on the 
foot-path to walk with some other girls ; but she was immediately at my side 
again as before. And, however dirty the streets, or difficult, she kept her place. 
After we had stopped at any time to pray and speak, she was at once at hjer place 
again ; and when the street was very dirty, I occasionally took her by the hand. 
I felt a little anxiety lest the little creature should be hurt. But all went well ; 
and when returning to the chapel, the street being very dirty, I put her on the 
foot-path, and had the satisfaction to see her come safe to the chapel. And 
I afterwards found this little girl's conduct had drawn the attention of many." 

There is something of the didactic and prophetic about this incident, which we may 
be sure Hugh Bourne did not, after all, consider "a small matter." Hugh Bourne 
and the child hand in hand, heading the procession through Oldham streets, was a lesson, 
and a parable of the future as well as a pleasing picture. It said : "Take care of the 
children. Do not repulse them and say, ' Trouble not the Master.' Have them with 
you. Lift them out of the dirt, and keep them from falling." And it anticipated 
these later days, when the young are ungrudgingly welcomed into the van of the 
Church's forward movements. 

The picture, as thus given, is scarcely complete without a reference to Hugh Bourne's 
engagement on the morning following the multifarious labours of the Sabbath, which 
might well have brought " blue Monday " in their train. If it came, it found him still 
following his bent caring for the young life. After a night's rest at his old friend 
James Wild's, he went with S. Atterby to Lees, to inspect the 
Infant School taught in the chapel S. Turner had built in 1834. 
H. B. compared notes with Brother Watts, the teacher, and suggested 
certain improvements he himself had projected, and finished up by 
holding a service with the children. 

We close our notice of Oldham by calling attention to the 
portraits, which will be found in the text, of some, out of many 
that might have been given, of tried and faithful officials who 
may be considered to have been the makers of Oldham Second 
MR. D. CLKGG. Q n ^e Sunday before the Coronation, July 15th, 1821, John 

Oldham Second'Circuit. , .. . ^ T . 

Verity lormed societies at Newton, Staly bridge, and Ashton-under- 

Lyne. Despite the opposition met with at the last-named place, the work prospered ; 
indeed, so much favour did the missionaries find with the people, that they came 
forward willingly to furnish the preaching-room, as Verity thankfully and even 
exultantly records. From the evidence supplied by an old plan, it would seem that 
Ashton stood as a circuit in 1824. But, if so, its name does not appear on the Conferential 


stations as such, and, in 1825, Ashton, together with Hyde and Dukinfield, were 
transferred from Manchester to Oldham ; and in 1838, these and other places 
became the Stalybridge Circuit. 

Ashton made full amends for the rough treatment of our early missionaries by 
some of its inhabitants. It has paid a large indemnity, by which the Connexion has 
been enriched. As a set-off to the hustling of Walton Carter and the imprisonment 
of S. Waller, it has sent forth some of its sons who have done splendid service. 
The Ashton society was instrumental in the conversion of three young men who were 
companions. One of these was James Austerbury, now spending a quiet evening after 
serving the Church at home long and faithfully ; the second was Edward Crompton, 
who after spending some years in the ministry in this country, entered that of the 
Primitive Methodist Church of the U. S. A. ; the third was John Standrin, who prior 
to his being sent out in 1857 by the G. M. Committee to Australia, travelled in the 
Knowlwood Circuit 1854-55. During revivalistic services which he conducted at 
Summit, on the Lancashire side of the Pennine range, a group of young men were 
won to the Church, some of whom were to carve their name deep in the history 
of our Church during the middle and later periods of its history. When we say that 
one of these was James Travis, another John Slater, and a third Barnabas Wild, long 
esteemed in the Sunderland District as a solid preacher and an upbuilder of the 
churches, it will be seen that Ashton is an interesting link in the chain of causes 
which, in the providence of God, have produced far-reaching results. 


Rochdale was part of the Manchester Circuit until 1837, when it became the head 
of a station with five hundred members. We know the exact date when our missionaries 
first lifted up their voice in this important town. It was July 15th, 1821, when 
Walton Carter " went to open Rochdale," as he himself has told us. " Three of our 
society," he says, " went with me. We sang up the street at one o'clock, and collected 
a good many people. But heavy rain coming on, I was obliged to desist ; but resumed 
my place at five, and preached to a very large and attentive congregation. Some were 
affected, and I have heard since were brought to God." 

The heavy rain here referred to may have been the identical rain-storm which, as 
Jonathan Ireland avers, led Jenny Bridges to take pity on the missionary, and offer 
him. the shelter of her cellar in Cheetham Street for the service. Anyway, the cellar 
was Rochdale's first lowly preaching-place. The tenants of the cellar, John Bridges, 
the carrier, and his wife, must be numbered among the eccentrics of our Israel, yet 
one trait in Jane's character may be recalled to her credit. Reverence may show itself 
in cellar as well as in cathedral ; and for that particular flag in her own cellar whereon 
Jane knelt when she found peace through believing, she had ever a feeling akin to 
reverence. She kept it clean. She pointed it out to visitors. To her it was a spot as 
sacred as an adorned altar. 

From the cellar, a remove was made, in 1825, to a room in Packer Meadow, off 
Packer Street. The remove was a step upward in the scale of respectability ; for we 
are told that Packer Street (of which we give a view, taken from an old print), was, 


in those days, considered one of the important streets of the town. Though very 
narrow, many business and professional men had premises here ; and at the top of this 
street was the ascent to the parish church by a flight of one hundred and twenty-one 

steps ; while at the bottom of the steps, to the 
right, was the famous " Packer Spout," a well noted 
for its cool, clear, pure water. 

The room over the cloth-dresser's in Packer 
Street served the uses of the society until 1830, 
when Drake Street Chapel was built, at first 
without a gallery. This, in its turn, lasted until 
1862, when the present chapel was built at a cost 
of 2,500. Thus, for a generation right through 
the mid-third of the century " old " Drake Street 
was the Church's centre in Rochdale for worship 
and service. Many worthy people, of whom one 
or two only we may recall, gradually grew old and 
grey in attending upon its ordinances and fulfilling 
their varied ministries. 

Edmund Holt was, for many years, the choir- 
master of Drake Street. Here any Sunday he 
might have been seen, surrounded by other 

instrumentalists and singers, manipulating a huge concertina. This good though 
eccentric man, it is said, was equally at home on the platform as in the singing 
pew, and by his public addresses could play on the feelings of men, by turns evoking 
tears and laughter. His name-sake, Thomas Holt, was of different type ; quiet, modest 
in speech and act, a " son of consolation." Both survived until 1877. James 
Whitehead was another official who rendered long and important service. He threw 




much energy into the discharge of his varied offices Circuit Steward, Sunday School 
superintendent, class leader, and local preacher, and yet, when done, had a surplus 
of energy left to draw upon. When he died in 1865, it was to the general regret of 
the townsfolk of Rochdale, as well as of his own people. The portraits of these and 
one or two other early workers are given in the text. 




Stockport and the places thereabout for some years formed part of the Manchester 
Circuit. One of the early workers tells how he and his fellow " locals " used regularly 
to walk from four to twelve miles on a Sunday morning, preach indoors and out-of- 
doors, pray with penitents, and then tramp back again. When they went southward to 
Stockport or beyond, they would meet in the evening on the Lancashire Bridge and 
journey home. The first word said by one to another would be, "How many souls 
to-day, lad ? " and often they rejoiced together over the spoil they had taken. 

To some appreciable extent Primitive Methodism had been influenced by Stockport 
" Revivalism." The Revivalists (amongst whom probably were Ebenezer Pulcifer and 


James Selby of Droylesden) had carried the fire to Congleton, at which Hugh Bourne's 
zeal was kindled afresh. They set causes to work which turned James Steele into 
a Revivalist, and resulted in the conversion of William Clowes and others of the 
fathers. So that when Primitive Methodism entered Stockport to stay, Stockport was 
only getting its own with usury. From this time onward, Stockport is a good deal to 
the fore. It has frequent incidental mention in the records of the time, as though it 
were a place which lay right in the track of the Church's movements. Our founders 
not unfrequently came this way, and passed through or tarried here. Thus William 
Clowes tells us that just after the District Meeting of 1828, he came to assist in the 


opening of a new chapel at Stockport (Duke Street), and found that his congregation 
had gained admission to the service by the presentation of purchased tickets. The 
same monetary arrangement obtained in 1833, when he preached the school sermons. 

This time he was the guest of " friend Beeston," and it 
had taken him two days to get from Silsden, riding, 
as he had to do, through heavy rains, behind an 
unmanageable horse. The present chapel, " Ebenezer," 
Wellington Road, S., was built in 1882, at a cost 
of 6000. 

It was in 1831 that Stockport became an indepen- 
dent station, with John Graham and R. Kaye, a 
native of Bolton, as its preachers and " one wanted." 
Samuel Smith and Jesse Ashworth are names closely 
associated with Stockport's early days. The former 
was born at Denton, a village near Stockport, and 
though he removed to Leeds to serve his apprenticeship, 
he returned in 1834 to superintend the station for two 
busy and successful years. The religious services of 

KEY. SAMUEL SMITH. , -TV. . n,- <- 1^01-1^11 

the District Meeting of 18oo, held at otockport, 

resulted in the conversion of more than forty persons. Samuel Smith must be regarded 
as having been one of the makers of the original Manchester District. He travelled 
in Manchester itself and the principal stations of the District, and finished his 
useful life as a supernumerary -assistant at Stockport, January, 1878, aged 80 years. 
More than most, Samuel Smith was a preacher for the people, and he had their social 
and political welfare at heart. It was Stockport which first sent Richard Cobden to 
Parliament, and the crusade of which Cobden and Bright were the leaders had Samuel 
Smith's full sympathy. True, the Consolidated Minutes might say : " He, i.e., 
a travelling preacher, must not deliver speeches at political meetings "or parliamen- 
tary elections," but Samuel Smith and a few others probably interpreted this to mean 
that they were only prohibited from making speeches in the Tory interest, and so reading 
the rule they took care to observe it strictly. S. Smith's ardent 
and early advocacy of Total Abstinence will be referred to when 
we come to deal with Preston, but in proof of his practical 
sympathy with the ameliorative movements of his day, it is said 
that he was elected as one of Lancashire's representatives on 
a deputation to Sir Robert Peel, and that he was one of those 
who pressed upon the great commoner the total and immediate 
abolition of the corn laws. 

It was during his term in Stockport that Samuel Smith took 
kindly notice of Jesse Ashworth, then a youth of fourteen. He 
succeeded in creating in his young mind the thirst for knowledge, REV j ASHWOBTH 
and especially the thirst for Biblical knowledge. He took him 
with him to Gatley, where the youth gave his first exhortation. He proposed him for 
the plan, and the same year young Jesse found himself at sixteen years of age 




a travelling preacher. This was in 1837, and the duty of placing on record the facts 
and an estimate of his long and useful life will fall to the lot of the Conference of 1904. 
In the roll of Stockport Circuit's early worthies the following names should have 
honourable place : J. Penny, first Circuit Steward, and local 
preacher, W. Cheetham, sen., Circuit Steward, and his present 
successor, W. Cheetham, jun. ; J. Ashton, the first Sunday 
School Superintendent; Thomas Dunning, a noted "local" and 
street preacher ; John Harrison, local preacher ; and J. Peckston, 
Chapel Treasurer and a generous supporter of the cause. 

Woodley, in the near vicinage of Stockport and, since 1887, 
a circuit in its own right, has had a long and interesting history. 
It was opened in 1822, in the usual way, by the holding of open-air 
services. It much needed missioning. The candle lighted by 
Wesley had all but gone out. What religion it had was 
mainly of the formal inactive type ; " dog-fighters, cock-fighters 
and man-fighters," on the contrary, were too active, and our missionaries had to 
contend with persecution of the rude and mischievous kind. Two houses that 
were successively offered were as quickly closed to us because 
of this activity of the sons of Belial. Whereupon the preacher 
for the day made an appeal to his out-door audience, and one 
Israel Burgess felt the force of that appeal. He feared lest the 
missionary should, after the manner of the apostles, shake the 
dust off his feet and depart, and hence he agreed, if his family 
were willing, to lend his house for the services. So much in 
earnest were they, that his wife walked to Stockport to announce 
to the preacher their acquiescence. Services were held here for 
a time, until a room in a warehouse was taken, and then in 1835 
a chapel with schools below was built. Young Jesse Ashworth 
was present at the opening services which were conducted on 
successive Sabbaths by Thomas Holliday, J. A. Bastow and John Flesher, the last 
of whom thrilled his audience as he preached two of his great sermons the 
Penitent Thief, and the Raising of the Widow's Son. 

A blessing rested on the house of Israel Burgess. A Burgess was 
the mother and grandmother of the Staffords, five of whom served 
for some time at least in the Primitive Methodist ministry ; 
the most widely known of these being Samuel Stafford (1854-90), 
and his nephew, Luke Stafford, whose name is associated with 
the origin of the Prayer and Bible Reading Union. Henry 
Stafford, the father of the latter, was for forty-five years a local 
preacher in the Stockport Circuit, and an active supporter of the 
cause at Woodley. Bramall too is a name to be mentioned with 
respect in any notice of the early history of our Church in Woodley. 


It was Edward Bramall who began the Sabbath school in his 
own house. For two Sundays only was it held here, being then removed to the ware- 




house, which served until the schools below the chapel of 1835 could be utilised. 
In 1861 separate schools were built. Since the day when E. Bramall improvised seats 
for his scholars by planks placed on bricks, progress has been made. Thomas Bramall, 

now retired from the active ministry, was 

one of the band sent out by Woodley. 
In or about the year 1849, the Church at 

Woodley was strengthened by the accession 

of John Lees Buckley to its ranks. By 

dint of perseverance he overcame initial 

difficulties that would have daunted a 

weaker man, and gained an honourable 

position among the manufacturers of his 

district. But success did not spoil him. 

He never lost his pray erf uln ess or his relish 

for spiritual things. Primitive Methodism 
in Woodley and the district owes much, especially on the material side, to the 
beneficence and steady connexional attachment of John Lees Buckley and his family.. 
For twenty years he was superintendent of the Sunday school, a local preacher, 
a patron of the Manchester Institute, a working member of various district and 
oonnexional committees. He died January 21st, 1880, aged 65 years. 








IT is time we returned to Hull to see what that Circuit was doing for the 
extension of the Connexion. An authentic document of the time ready 
to our hand may help us here. It is a letter sent to Hugh Bourne by 
Richard Jackson, the energetic steward of Hull Circuit. The letter, dated 
March 20th, 1822, reads like a dispatch from the seat of war as indeed it was. We 
shall have to refer to this important letter again when we come to speak of Hull's 
mission to Craven and to Northumberland ; that part of the letter which more 
immediately concerns us here is this statement : " It is two years and nine months 
since Hull was made a circuit town .... and we have since made seven circuits 
from Hull, viz. : Pocklington, Brotherton, Hutton Rudby, Malton, Leeds, Ripon and 
York Circuits." The formation of the first three circuits named in this list has already 
been described, and what this and the next chapters have to show is the direction and 
degree of the geographical extension made as registered by the formation in 1822 of 
the York, Leeds, Malton and Ripon Circuits. What we have now to watch and discern 
the meaning of is the establishment of strategic centres in the wide county of York, and 
the organised endeavour to occupy for the Connexion a tract of country which now forms 
a considerable part of the Leeds and York, and Bradford and Halifax districts. 


The continuous and commanding part the ancient city of York has played in the civil 
and ecclesiastical history of England has very largely been the outcome of its unique 
geographical position. Lying as it does at the entratice to the vale of York, the city 
has held the key to the Great North road along which armies and travellers and mer- 
chants and merchandise were bound to pass. It is no accident that the mediaeval city 
has renewed its youth as a great railway centre. York has always had to be reckoned 
with, and even Primitive Methodist missionaries had very early to reckon with it. 
They could not have given it the go-by without making both a physical and moral 
detour which would have meant bad strategy and personal dishonour. To evangelise 
Yorkshire and omit York would indeed have been to play Hamlet, and to leave Hamlet 
himself out. Hence, within six months of Clowes' entry into Hull, we find him con- 
fronted with the task of entering York. As though he himself were fully aware of the 
significance of the event, he not only gives its exact date, but a graphic description of 
his feelings at the time, and of the circumstances of his entry which were not without 
a certain dignity and picturesqueness. The account must be given in Clowes' own 
words ; nor will the reader fail to notice his feeling of the inevitability of the duty that 
lay before him as evidenced by the narrative. As Christ " must needs go through 



Samaria," so Clowes felt there Vas a needs-be that he must deliver his testimony in 


" Being now in the immediate neighbourhood of the city of York, I formed 
a resolution, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, to lift up my banner in 
that far-famed city of churches. Accordingly, I sent a notice to the city crier 
to announce to the citizens of York that a ' Ranter ' preacher would preach on the 
Pavement. But the crier sent me word that he durst not give public notice of my 
purpose, unless I first obtained sanction of the Lord Mayor. Here I soon found 
I was in a measure locked in a difficulty. It occurred to me that if I waited upon 
his lordship to solicit permission, he would very probably refuse me liberty ; and 


were I to attempt preaching after a denial, very likely he would order me to 
prison ; and then if I should pass by the city without bearing my testimony in it, 
my conscience would remonstrate, and my duty to God and my fellow-creatures 
would be undischarged ; consequently, I determined to proceed and preach the 
gospel in the streets of the city, in conformity with the instructions which I had 
received from Jesus Christ, without asking permission of any one. 

" Accordingly, on Monday, May 24th, 1819, at seven o'clock in the evening, 
I stood up on the Pavement in the Market-place, in the name of the Lord who 
had so often supported me in similar enterprises. I commenced the service by 
singing the fourteenth hymn in the small hymn-book : 
" Come, oh come, thou vilest sinner," &c. 


In a short time the people drew up in considerable numbers, and the shop-doors 
and other places were crowded. All was very quiet until I had sung and prayed, 
when a man in the congregation became rather uproarious ; but I got my eye upon 
him, and he was checked. When I had proceeded about half-way through my 
discourse, a troop of horse came riding up, and surrounded the congregation and 
the preacher. The devil immediately suggested to me that the Lord Mayor had 
sent the soldiers to take me, under the idea that I was a radical speaker, inciting 
the people to rebellion ; but I rallied after this shot from the enemy's camp, and 
went on exhorting sinners to flee from the wrath to come. I accordingly concluded 
my sermon without molestation ; the soldiers and people retiring in proper order. 
Some asked me who I was, and what I was ; I told them my name was William 
Clowes, and that in principle I was a Methodist, and that I would preach there 
again the next fortnight. Accordingly, I took up my staff and travelled seven 
miles to sleep that evening accompanied by a few friends." 

W. Clowes' promised second visit to York was not paid in a fortnight as announced ; 
nor it would seem until some six weeks after. But before the summer was over, not 
only Clowes, but his colleagues, Sarah Harrison and her husband at separate times 
preached in the Thursday Market (St. Sampson's Square), this spot being probably 
chosen as better adapted for the purpose than the Pavement. Each of these services 
had features in common. Behind the missionary, on each occasion, we can discern the 
now somewhat shadowy figures of village friends and abettors especially belonging to 
Elvington, some seven miles distant. Here lived the brothers Bond, well-to-do farmers, 
whose names frequently occur in the early journals as extending hospitality to God's 
servants and in other ways helping to establish our cause in these parts, and notably in 
York. Elvington was in a sense the base for the mission to York. Clowes took his 
staff and travelled on to Elvington to sleep after his first visit to the city. It was while 
at Elvington the friends urged Sarah Harrison to enter York. The villagers by the 
Ouse and Derwent were proud of their county-capital, as well they might be. They 
were ambitious that their missionaries and their chief city should be on good terms with 
each other. To them York with its twenty thousand inhabitants was the big city. 
With its churches and minster, its Lord Mayor and soldiery and Judges of Assize, it 
stood for all that was distinguished and impressive. If only W. Clowes and Sarah and 
John Harrison would go up in the name of the Lord and take York, who could 
tell what great things might follow? So not only did the missionaries go, but the 
villagers went with them for company and support only they went with diverse 
feelings. For it is very noticeable how in each case these leading missionaries of Hull 
Circuit went to York with a weight of anxiety resting upon them that could not be 
concealed, and that it was difficult to account for. It seemed as though the dread of 
the city rested upon them. So it was with Sarah Harrison who was the next to go. 
At first the cross appeared too heavy for her to take up. She was however encouraged 
by a promise from several to accompany her, and she accordingly went. When she 
was entering the North Gate and having a first view of the city her courage was 
shaken, and for some time she felt as if she could not preach. So it was with 
Clowes : " On my way [from Elvington to York] my spirit became greatly exercised ; 
heavy trouble pressed upon me ; I had an impression of fear and uneasy apprehension 



respecting my mission to the city. However, as I proceeded, I recollected I had 
counted the cost, and however I might be called to suffer, truth would win its way 
and God would be glorified." John Harrison's experience was almost identical with the 
experience of his colleagues who had preceded him. "Tuesday, July 6th, I and my 
friend left for York. We entered the city, but the thought of having to preach was to 
me a great trial : I trembled with a great trembling." These reminders that our 
pioneers were after all men and women of like passions with ourselves, and had their 
seasons when duty which they would not flee from looked formidable, are not to be 
disregarded, for, despite the tremors of the flesh, God was with them and enabled 
them to deliver their testimony in Thursday Market with power and success. 



Sarah Kirkland preached to an immense crowd at the corner of the Thursday Market 
from a butcher's block, obligingly placed at her disposal by its owner who was 
a Methodist. As for Clowes, thousands gathered round him as he preached, but 
though some had said " they would be taken up," to his surprise " not a tongue of 
disapprobation was lifted up, all was quiet, and all heard the truth of God proclaimed 
with the deepest attention." John Harrison too had a large congregation and the 
people " gave evidence of their approval of the truth by their tears." 

As the result of these memorable visits of the pioneers, a society of seven members 
was formed, and with the help of the friends at Elvington a room was secured in 
a building near St. Anthony's Hall (Blue Coat School), Peaseholme Green, for the 
holding of services. The society's occupancy of this room was but a brief one, lasting 



only a few months. Not only had the room little to offer in the way of comfort or 
cheerfulness, but as the society grew its inadequacy became more and more apparent. 
Looking round for more eligible quarters, attention was turned to an unoccupied chapel 
in Grape Lane, originally built for the Rev. William Wren who had seceded from Lady 
Huntingdon's Connexion in 1781. After his death, three years after, it had been hired 
by the Congregationalists, and then in turn occupied by the New Connexion, the 
Wesleyan Methodists, the Particular Baptists, and Unitarian Baptists ; * so that in the 
thirty-nine years of its existence as a building it had changed hands and denominations 
no less than half-a-dozen times. Many old Nonconformist meeting-houses have had 



a strange, eventful history, but one thinks it would be hard to find one with a more 
chequered record than Grape Lane. Something of the outward appearance of the 
building, which for thirty-one years served as our denominational centre in the city of 
York, may be gathered from our picture. However defective it might be according to 
our modern standards of beauty and convenience, Grape Lane was a decided advance on 
Peaseholme Green, and so the building was secured, G. and A. Bond of Elvington, 

* I am indebted for these facts to " Primitive Methodism. Its Introduction and Development in 
the city of York," by Wm. Camidge, P.E.H.S. The monograph is a model of what such works 
should be. 


S. Smith tells us, becoming surety for the rent. It was opened on July 2nd, 1820, by 
John Verity, John Woolhouse both of whom had just been taken out as preachers by 
the Hull Circuit and by W. Clowes, who preached in the evening. The opening 
services coincided in time with the formation of York as one of the branches of Hull 

From the manuscript journals of Sampson Turner now before us we find George 
Herod, Sampson Turner and Nathaniel West labouring together at the beginning of 
1822 in the York branch, which became a Circuit in March of the same year. As this 
is the first time JST. West's name comes before us, and we shall hear much of him until 
1827, a few words respecting this remarkable man will be in place. He was an Irish- 
man, and when we first see him in 1819, he wears the King's uniform and is known as 
Corporal West of the King's Bays. He was a man every inch of him ; of splendid 
physique, more than six feet in height, and with good natural parts sharpened by 
discipline. Altogether he was a man to impress and look at admiringly. When his 
regiment was stationed at Nottingham he was drawn to the room in the Broad Marsh 
and got soundly converted. He soon began to preach, and became very popular. In 
Leeds, to which town the King's Bays shortly removed, Corporal West attracted great 
crowds by his preaching. While at Leeds he talked so much of the Primitives of 
their zeal, their methods, their success, that the desire was awakened in many to see 
and hear this wonderful people for themselves. A pious young woman, a Methodist, 
fell in love with the handsome soldier and offered to find the whole or greater part 
of the money to purchase his discharge from the army. The offer was accepted, and 
N. West showed his gratitude by marrying his benefactress. But before this the King's 
Bays had removed to York, and Corporal West may have been one of the troopers who 
encircled William Clowes when he preached on the Pavement on May 19th. Before 
the summer was over he was certainly connected with the York Society, for Sarah 
Harrison expresses her pleasure at meeting with him on her third visit to the city just 
after the preaching room had been taken. By May, 1820, ex-corporal West was 
a travelling preacher and, as we have seen, at the beginning of 1822 we find him one of 
the York staff. Beyond this point we need not at present follow him. 

Grape Lane acquired some notoriety at first from the persistent attention bestowed 
upon it by a band of miscreants not of the lowest rank in the social scale who 
resorted to all the familiar devices for annoying and intimidating the preacher and his 
congregation, which we need not stay to specify. Unwilling at first to invoke the law 
for their own protection, the Society through its officers seems to have approached Lord 
Dundas, who at that time was the chief city magistrate. To his credit, be it said, the 
Lord Mayor cast his influence on the right side and personally attended a service at 
which John Hutchinson was the preacher. No preacher could have wished for a better 
behaved congregation than John Hutchinson had that night, and it was thought that the 
action of Lord Dundas would have a wholesome, deterrent effect. But the persecution 
soon began again, and when George Herod summoned two of the ringleaders at the 
Christmas Sessions of 1821 for disturbing public worship, he lost his case, and was 
saddled with the costs, amounting to 16. "Everything appeared clear against them, 
yet when the trial came on, they somehow or other got brought through, which very 


much injured our temporal concerns," says N. West. Naturally enough the freemen 
whom the authorities were reluctant to punish as they deserved, now felt freer to carry 
on their malpractices. On the eve of holding a great love-feast in York, N. West 
had to get the tickets of admission printed at a distant town and withhold 
their distribution until the morning of the love-feast, in order to hinder the 
would-be disturbers from getting access to the meeting by the presentation of 
tickets they had themselves got printed. By this precautionary measure " we kept 
a great mass of unbelief away" says N. West. This love -feast of the 24th February, 
1822, was a memorable one. Though Mr. Herod was conducting a second circuit love- 
feast at Easingwold at the same hour, the country societies sent such large contingents 
that some eleven hundred persons were present, and the meeting, which was carried on 
for several hours until Messrs. Turner and West and the other labourers were quite 
exhausted, resulted in some forty conversions. It was just about this time, as S. Turner 
tells us, that the rebels broke the vestry window-shutters all to pieces while he was 
preaching, and three young men were taken up and committed to the Sessions for trial. 
This time the disturbers were convicted, and the reign of lawlessness was shaken though 
it did not end until some considerable time after. * 

The first plan of the York Circuit, April July, 1822, shows twenty -two preache rs 
all told, and thirty-two preaching places. Of these, with the exception of York, only 
Easingwold has, since 1872, become the head of an independent country station. The 
lines of development to be followed by York as a Circuit were already in 1822 laid 
down. All round, at no great distance, the ground was occupied or earmarked by 
branches or circuits belonging to or formed from Hull Pocklington, Brotherton, 
Tadcaster, Ripon and Mai ton. Unless it had attempted distant missions, York Circuit 
could only do as it has done strengthen and extend itself within the progressive city 
and keep firm hold of the adjacent agricultural villages. It could not, like Scotter, 
Darlaston or Manchester, hope to become the fruitful mother of 
circuits. At the close of 1824, Tadcaster Branch was attached 
to York Circuit, and so continued until 1826. Probably, never 
before, or since, has the Circuit covered so wide an area as it did 
then, when four preachers were on the ground, two of whom were 
Thomas Batty and J. Bywater. 

One of the makers of York Primitive Methodism was William 
Rumfitt. When he came to York in 1822, a young man of 
nineteen, he was already a local preacher. He at once joined 
the Society in Grape Lane which he found " in a low and feeble 
condition." This testimony finds incidental confirmation from the 

MK. W. K U M Fill'. 

contemporary Journals of Sampson Turner, the first superintendent 

* "Afterwards I suffered great annoyance. They came into the room smoked, talked, let 
sparrows fly to put out the lights, etc. So I went to law and won. For there was another Lord 
Mayor who was favourable to us. He told them he would imprison every one of them on 
a repetition of the offence." Notes of a conversation with S. Turner taken down in 1874, with 
which his Journal agrees. 


of the York Circuit. It would seem there were difficulties and drawbacks, having 
their source both within and without the Church, which retarded progress ; and now 
and again the records betray the writer's misgiving that the whilom branch had been 
granted independence before it was quite ready for it. This ink-faded script in which 
Sampson Turner confides to us his exercises of soul, is but a sample 
of the superabundant evidence to hand showing that our earliest 
societies were peculiarly exposed to the intrusion and governance 
of men of mixed motives and unsanctified temper. From the 
very nature of the case the danger was inevitable. Sharp dis- 
cipline was necessary to purge "out the old leaven;" but to keep 
it from creeping in again nothing availed more effectually than a 
few strong, righteous, far-seeing officials, always on the spot for 
"the presence of the morally healthy acts as a kind of moral 
deodorizer." So true is this that those circuits which steadily 
won their way to an assured position, as York ultimately did, 


were, we may be sure, blessed with a certain number 01 these moral 
deodorizers natures antipathetic to the old leaven. 

William Rumfitt's period of Church activity spanned the first and intermediate periods 
of our Connexional history. As we have seen he joined the York Society in 1822, and 
it was in 1879 that devout men carried him to his burial. He was a local preacher 
during the whole of that long period, and a class-leader during a considerable portion of 
it, besides filling other offices. Two nights in each week were devoted by him to the 
public exercises of religion. In 1857 he was elected a deed-poll member, and so seriously 
did he take this trust that for twenty-one years in succession he was never absent 
from his place in Conference. While his house was a kind of " pilgrim's inn " 
he took care that it should also be a Church in which Bible-reading, praise, prayer, 
and talk about good things formed the constituents of the domestic atmosphere. It 
was according to the fitness of things that the children nurtured in such a home 
should carry on the family tradition ; and John and Charles Rumfitt (now LL.D., and 
a clergyman of the Established Church) both entered the ministry, the former travelling 
for forty-one years (1852-93) with great acceptance. He first 
began to preach about 1845 in association with Mr. George Wade 
who also from 1835 to 1871 was a useful class-leader and prominent 
official of the York Circuit. John Rumtitt's biographer intimates 
that at this time that is in the " Forties " Grape Lane was at its 
best, and York Circuit one of the most prosperous and nourishing 
circuits in the Connexion. 

Perhaps the very success of Grape Lane in these closing years 
of the first period was one chief cause of its undoing and final 
supersession. Though the Church improved, Grape Lane and its MH w CAMIDGE 
locality did not improve, but rather degenerated as time went on. _. F ' H - HiS -, 

The Historian of York 

The approach to the building and its environment were equally Primitive Methodism, 
objectionable ; and its structural shortcomings seriously interfered with comfort and 
the efficiency of church-work. Many schemes for securing a more eligible centre were 




canvassed, but with little practical result until, under the vigorous leadership of Jeremiah 
Dodsworth, what had been deemed almost too much to hope for was achieved. 
A family mansion in Little Stonegate was bought for 800, and on the site of the 
demolished building Ebenezer Chapel was erected and opened in November, 1851, by 

Jeremiah Dodsworth ; two famous divines, Dr. Beaumont 
and James Parsons, also preaching sermons in connection 
with the notable event. A new era in York Primitive 
Methodism began by the dedication to the service of God 
of Ebenezer, which right through and beyond the middle 
period of our history was the recognised centre of Primi- 
tive Methodism in York. How many old Elmfieldians 
retain vivid recollections of the march to and from the 
plain chapel in Little Stonegate hard by the venerable 
Cathedral ! With it, too, are inseparably associated recol- 
lections of Sir James Meek, as yet our only Knight and man 
of title, who it must be confessed wore his honours meekly 
and discharged his civic and Church duties with true gentle- 
manliness and modesty. H. J. McCulloch had his title 
too, being almost invariably known as "Captain," and 
he was for some years actively associated with Little 
Stonegate ; at one time indeed having charge of the service of praise. It was in 
1853 that Alderman James Meek transferred his membership from the Wesleyans 
and brought his class with him. As a leader, he was conscientious in the discharge 
of his duties. It. was no uncommon thing for him to travel from Scarborough, or 
wherever he might happen to be at the time, for the express purpose of meeting the 
members of his class. Though we thus couple Sir James Meek and " Captain " 
McCulloch in the same paragraph, because Providence made 
them contemporaries and fellow-citizens and colleagues 
in church-work, it is none the less true that they were 
very different men. Propinquity showed them to be a pair 
of opposites. Not only were they marked off from each 
other by external differences in appearance, tone, manner, 
but these differences ran down into still deeper under- 
lying differences. Yet both were identified with Ebenezer 
and interested in its prosperity, and both, though in 
contrasted ways, played their part in those wider 
connexional movements, near the vortex of which York 
was brought by the founding in 1854 of Elmfield school 
with its rudimentary ministerial training college, and by 
the establishment in 1866 of the Primitive Methodist 
Insurance Company with its managerial office at York. 
To these we shall return in considering the origin and 
development of our Church institutions. Meanwhile, let it be noted that the fact 
of the Conferences of 1853 and 1864 being held at York seems to indicate that 




by this time York had come to be regarded as one of the leading circuit-towns in 
our Israel. 

Jeremiah Dodsworth, the builder of Ebenezer, deserves more than a passing reference 
here, and this for various reasons, one such being that from the year 1839 to 1864, 
during which period his active ministry extended, he laboured in Leeds, Malton, 
Keighley, Burnley and other Circuits with which we must shortly concern ourselves. 
Mr. Dodsworth was the most eminent scion of a family which both in its parent stock 
and its offshoots in Hull, at Aldershot, and even at the Antipodes, has done much for 
Primitive Methodism. John Dodsworth, the father, who died in 1860, aged 84, was 
a fine specimen of patriarchal piety, and the mother was equally distinguished for her 
feminine graces. Their irreproachable character gave reality and lustre to the village 
church of Willoughby, five miles from Hull ; indeed, it may even be said to have owed 
to them its very existence and continuance. For their dwelling for many years did 

double duty as a place of public worship and 
house of entertainment for the preachers, and 
when at last the chapel was built, it stood at 
the corner of John Dodsworth 's garden, the site 
being a deed of gift from his master by whom 
he was highly esteemed. Something of the 
old saint's character may be gathered from 
one of his dying utterances : " I am climbing 
up Jacob's ladder on my hands and knees, and 
there is not a spell from bottom to top that 
/ have put there. It was built by mercy all 

It may not be generally known that even 
before Jeremiah Dodsworth had become a most 
effective and popular preacher, he had already 
proved himself a Free Church stalwart and 
champion of the down-trodden agricultural 
labourer from which class he sprang. As 
such he figures somewhat prominently in 
Cobbett's " Legacy to Parsons," of all books 
in the world, the reason being, that Jeremiah 
Dodsworth was one of the last to refuse pay- 
ment of tithe on labourers' wages one of the most obnoxious forms of impost 
soon after swept away by the legislative besom. He was charged a tithe of four 
shillings and fourpence on his wages by the Rev. Francis Lundy, rector of Lockington, 
whose living was of the annual value of 532 ; and on his refusal to pay, two Justices 
of the Peace, the Rev. J. Blanchard, another pluralist clergyman, and Robert "Wylie, 
sentenced him to pay the four shillings and fourpence and the costs of prosecution. He, 
still refusing to pay, the same two magistrates issued a warrant of distress against his 
goods and chattels. But he had no goods and chattels to distrain ; so Rev. John 
Blanchard as magistrate committed him to the House of Correction at Beverley, there 




to be kept for the space of three calendar months as punishment for not paying his 
"offerings, oblations and obventions." * This "village Hampden " and hereafter 
successful chapel-builder and popular preacher has yet stronger claims for remembrance 
here, as having in his later years become one of the most popular writers our Church had 
as yet produced. At this epoch, as we know, many very earnest and clever people were 
making it their special business to popularise the advancing Puseyite theology. This was 
their mission and they fulfilled it sedulously ; and so tales and biographies and histories 
poured from the press, subtly flavoured with sacramentarian and high-church sentiment. 
In like manner, Jeremiah Dodsworth, in his own way, sought to popularise the old 
Evangelical theology. The theology was there in its substance and essence, but, above 
all his books were readable, written in a pleasing, flowing style, and making strong 
appeal to the indestructible feelings of men. " The Eden Family," and " The Better 

Land" especially, like James 
Grant's kindred book," Heaven 
our Home," and our own John 
Simpson's "The Prodigal Son" 
were good exemplars of the 
popularised Evangelical theo- 
logy and sentiment, and had a 
vogue far beyond their writers' 
own churches. 

Great an advance as Ebenezer 
was on Grape Lane, the time 
came when " Tekel " " Thou 
art found wanting " was seen 
to be written on its broad front. 
For many years the impres- 
sion deepened that after a half 
century's occupancy, the time 
had come for this honoured 
sanctuary to make way for 
a successor that should worthi- 
ly mark the attainment of a 
further stage of Connexional 
advance. The ampler school 
and vestry accommodation so 
sorely needed could then be provided, and the new building might be so located and 
planned that it would serve as the pro-college chapel and in other respects fittingly 

* " Cobbett's Legacy to Parsons." The facts are also referred to in " Methodism as it should be," 
1857, p. 249. Neither of these authorities gives the slightest hint that Mr. Dodsworth did not serve 
out his sentence. But Rev. H. Woodcock in his " Primitive Methodism in the Yorkshire Wolds" 
(p. 113) says : '' But he was released, and we believe Mr. B. paid him 20." If the clergyman paid the 
fine and costs it should be put down to his credit. But as yet diligent inquiry has not enabled us to 
verify this point. 




represent the oldest interest of the denomination in the metropolitan city. Accord- 
ingly preparations were cautiously made to effect the desired change. In advance, 
a block of property in Monkgate was bought for 1,000, and the rents of this in time 
enabled the trustees to redeem the cost of purchase. The debt on Ebenezer was cleared 
and the building sold for 2,000, and in 1902 the "John Petty Memorial Church" was 
opened. We give an illustration of this building as well as of Monk Bar contiguous 
thereto ; " Bar " being the local name for the gates by which the walls of York, 2| miles 
in extent, are pierced. 

But even this does not complete 
the story of York's enterprise in 
chapel-building. Forty years ago 
a mission was started across the 
river on the south-west part of 
the city. The mission prospered, 
and in 1864 a room was opened in 
Nunnery Lane to serve as a chapel 
and Sunday school. " Ultimately," 
says Mr. Camidge, "the people 
of the Nunnery Lane Mission 
Room built Victoria Bar Chapel 
as it has always been called. It is 
situate just within the opening in 
the Bar walls, which opening gives 
access to and from Bishophill and 
Nunnery Lane." * The chapel 
was opened in the spring of 1880, 
and in 1883 York Circuit was 
divided, Victoria Bar becoming the 
head of York Second Circuit. 


We are fortunate in knowing 
the exact date when Primitive 
Methodism was introduced into 
Leeds, as also the events which led 
up to it. It was on November 24th, 
1819, when Clowes "opened his mission" in the already growing West Riding town 
" by the direction of the providence of God." In these carefully chosen words Clowes 
may be supposed to refer to those seemingly detached and fortuitous events he does 
not stop to detail which, in the hand of Providence, had become a chain to draw him 
to Leeds, as before he had been drawn to Hull. " By the direction of the providence 
of God ! " so might Peter have spoken of his arrival at the house of Cornelius, or Paul 

(Our Chapel just through the Bar.) 

* " Primitive Methodism : Its Introduction and Development in the city of York." 


of his first landing in Europe to publish the gospel. Our chief source of information as 
to these preparatory conditions and happenings accounting for Clowes' entry into Leeds, 
is a communication addressed to George Herod by the Rev. Samuel Smith, who was 
one of the most prominent actors in the events he describes. It may be claimed for the 
facts detailed by S. Smith, that they are not only interesting in themselves as throwing 
light on the origins of Leeds Primitive Methodism, but that they have a still higher 
value, as serving to relate Primitive Methodism to that type of religious activity and 
phenomenon of the time we have called "Revivalism." After all that has been written, 
we need not once more indicate what is sought to be conveyed by that word, or stay to 
show again that Revivalism was largely a survival and recrudescence of primitive 
doctrine and experience, and of old-time methods of evangelisation. It will be enough 
to remind ourselves that, right along our course thus far, from Mow Cop to the Humber 


and back again by the Peak to the Mersey, we have seen this fervid aggressive type of 
religious life manifesting itself, in ways regular or irregular, banned or tolerated. It 
would be strange indeed were we to miss in Leeds, of all towns in England, what we 
met with in. Nottingham and Hull and Manchester. We think of Leeds as a freedom - 
loving town. At this particular time it was a stronghold of Nonconformity. Methodism 
had struck its roots deep in the life of the people. Not many years before, the town 
and neighbourhood had been set on fire by William Bramwell's ministry of flame. In 
such a town one would naturally expect to find those whose proclivities lay in the 
direction of Revivalism to be, not less but rather more numerous than elsewhere, and 
a knowledge of the ecclesiastical history of Leeds would but justify the expectation. 
But narrowing our view : it was a band of Revivalists, Primitive Methodists in spirit, 



though not in name, who were responsible for W. Clowes' coming to Leeds. Through 
them Providence lifted the beckoning finger and the signal was obeyed. 

The Rev. S. Smith tells us that in 1818 the year William Bramwell suddenly 
expired in Leeds " he commenced a mission in the low places of Leeds and the 
vicinity, and in a little time he was joined in it by John Verity and thirteen young 
men all zealous to employ their spare time in the work of visiting and preaching to 
the low, degraded and neglected dwellers in yards, alleys, back streets and cellars. Not 
one of them, except John Verity, was connected as a preacher with any religious com- 
munity, but upwards of one hundred persons were through their labours brought to 
God and joined some religious society." As yet they had not as much as heard of 
Primitive Methodism as an organised form of aggressive religion ; but they were soon 

IN 1830. 

to hear. First of all, during the summer of 1819, Corporal West of "The Bays" was 
billeted with his troop in the town. He did not hide his light under a bushel. Alike 
in his preaching to which he zealously gave himself, and in conversation, he spoke of 
his recent conversion at Nottingham through the instrumentality of the Primitive 
Methodists, whose preachers he extolled, awakening the desire in many to see and 
hear them for themselves.* Then in the columns of a certain Hull newspaper called the 
RockingTiam, there were occasional notices of a strange people who had made their 
appearance in that town and were carrying all before them. Of course the notices were 

* See Memoir of Rev. John Hopkinson in the Magazine for 1859, p. 386, where however the 
writer, Eev. H. Gunns, speaks of " a Mr. West, an officer of a regiment of cavalry," evidently with 
no knowledge that this person was identical with the soou-to-be Rev. Nathaniel West. 


both facetious and spiteful. They were described as " weaving brown coats, strong shoes 
and corduroy small-clothes ; as having all things in common, and also that they had 
eaten up the whole substance of several farmers." These paragraphs were read with 
interest, for though the notices were coloured and even distorted by the prejudiced 
media through which they had passed, these Leeds Revivalists were still able to 
perceive several points of similarity between the " Kanters " and themselves, one 
being that they were both " spoken against " for trying to do good in unconventional 
ways ; so that what they read only inflamed their desire to know more of the com- 
munity jibed at by the BoeMngham. Finally, the rumour went that the " Ranters " 
had now reached Ferry Bridge, whereupon counsel was taken, and it was arranged to 
send John Verity and J. Atkinson, " Esq.," of Hunslet, to get to know all they could 
respecting the people about whom there were such strange reports. The deputation 
seems to have proceeded to Ferrybridge early in September,* and what success it met 
with, together with the rest of S. Smith's story, he shall be allowed to tell in his own 
words : 

" Mr. Atkinson called on Mr. Joseph Bailey, who kept a boarding-school, and with 
whom he had been partially educated. Messrs. Atkinson and Verity were much 
surprised to find that Mr. Bailey was a member of this new community. He introduced 
them to the preacher for the day, the late Samuel Laister, of Market Weighton, who 
preached in the open air, and published for John Verity to preach in the afternoon : 
with which appointment the latter complied. While J. V. was engaged in the 
preaching service, a passenger on the London and Leeds coach 'The Union' saw 
him, and, knowing him, reported the circumstances to the Methodist Leaders' Meeting 
on the Monday following. Action was taken upon it, and John Verity, in his absence, 
was suspended from his office as a leader, and a Mr. Brooks was appointed to attend 
his class on the Tuesday evening. When John Verity returned on the Tuesday, I made 
him acquainted with the doings of the Leaders' Meeting as far as I had heard. H is 
class met in the Wesley Chapel vestry in Meadow Lane. I accompanied him to the 
meeting where we found Mr. Brooks, who stated his case, and absolutely refused 
John Verity permission to pray with the people ; but he did pray, and Mr. Brooks 
sang during the time. I begged J. V. to retire, as such doings could be of no service. 
We retired to his house and talked matters over, and agreed to write to Hull, inviting 
the 'Ranters' to visit Leeds, and promising we would join them. We that night 
wrote a joint letter, addressed to 'The Ranter Preacher, Hull.' The contents of the 
letter were to the effect that, if a preacher were sent to Leeds, we would provide for 
him board and lodgings for three months in order that he might make a fair trial. 
The parties agreeing were John Verity, J. Atkinson, Esq., J. Howard, surgeon, and 
Samuel Smith. To this letter we received an answer in a few days signed ' R. Jackson, 
Circuit Steward,' saying : ' We will send a preacher as soon as we have one at liberty ; 
in the meantime we advise you to go on, plan your preachers, open new places, and 
form classes,' etc. They also sent three hundred hymn-books and one hundred rules 
which had been drawn up at the Nottingham Preparatory Meeting a few weeks before. 
On the Thursday following I formed a class in Mrs. Taylor's [house], at the top of 

* S. Smith says about the last Sabbath in August. But as they had previously read in the 
Rockingham of the opening of West Street Chapel, which was not opened until September 10th, 
it cannot well have been before the 17th September. 


Kirkgate, and John Verity formed one at Mrs. Hopkinson's, in Hunslet Lane . . . 
We made a plan, and on it we had seven preachers ; and we then proceeded to open 
places, being known only by the name of ' Ranters.' We opened Mrs. Taylor's cellar for 
preaching, and Mrs. Hopkinson's house both in Leeds. We entered the villages of 
Armley, Busten Park, Hughend, Hunslet, Woodhouse-car, and Wortley. In each of 
these places we formed a class." 

So much for the series of occurrences which led to Clowes' first visit to Leeds. 
S. Smith then goes on to speak of the circumstances of the visit itself. The account he 
gives is in substantial agreement with that Clowes himself gives twice over in his 
Journal, although, when the two accounts are compared, we recognise differences in 
detail, reminding us in an interesting way that our knowledge of the simplest event of 
history is, after all, only relative and approximate ; that no two persons will quite 
independently write of what they once saw and took part in without their narratives 
exhibiting variations. What seems clear when we compare and harmonise the two 
versions is, that Clowes was accompanied to Leeds by Mr. John Bailey, the schoolmaster 
of Ferrybridge, and that, indirectly at least, through him, the Thursday evening service 
was held in the schoolroom in Kirkgate belonging to Mr. Bean. Clowes remarks that 
as some of the people left this service, they were heard to say that what they had been 
listening to was "the right kind of stuff." Next day Clowes went on to Dewsbury and 
preached there for the first time in the house of Mr. J. Boothroyd. For the Sunday 
services Messrs. Smith and Verity secured a large room in the third story of Sampson's 
waggon warehouse, in Longbaulk Lane, used by a dancing master on the week day ; 
and Clowes also employed the bellman to go round the town announcing that 
" A Ranter's preacher from Hull would preach in Sampson's warehouse, on Sunday 
morning, at ten o'clock." When Sunday came, the first service ended without any 
special incident, but in the afternoon, while a Mr. Hirst was conducting the service, 
an interruption occurred. The redoubtable Sampson himself, whom Clowes graphically 
describes as bent on opposition and full of subtlety, came to the top of the stairs and 
cried that the building was falling, and a stampede began, which was only stopped by 
Clowes striking up the hymn : " Come, oh come, thou vilest sinner." After an exhorta- 
tion by Mr. Bailey, it was given out that another service would be held in the evening, 
and the congregation dispersed ; but when the hour for evening service came, it was 
found that Sampson had hung a padlock on the warehouse door, and they were fain to 
hold their service in Mrs. Taylor's cellar instead of in "the upper room." Clowes 
admits that Sampson and his padlock had for the moment nonplussed him ; but he 
thankfully records that, as usual, the devil had outwitted himself, for a man came 
late to the warehouse, expecting a service, and, finding the "door was shut," was led to 
reflect that so also it might be at last when he came up to heaven's gate if he did not 
there and then repent, which, happily, he did. S. Smith records that during this visit 
Clowes met the members fifty-seven in number, in Mrs. Hopkinson's house, and 
incorporated them with the Primitive Methodist Connexion. 

W. Clowes always claimed to have been Hull Circuit's leading missionary to Leeds 
and its neighbouring towns and villages and with good reason. It is evident from his 
published Journal, as well as from private documents in his hand in our possession, that 

E 2 




the experiences he met with during these pioneer visits made a deep impression on his 
mind and were often recalled. He knew what it was to endure privation and suffer 
inconvenience. At first accommodation was poor and not always available, except when 
paid for, and it behoved him to be careful in spending the circuit's 
money, in view of possible embarrassments. Hence, he was some- 
times in straits and had to lodge where he could occasionally in 
rather strange places. But a change for the better soon took 
place, and we find him thankfully recording: "I now had my 
home with Mr. Smith at the top of Kirkgate, whose family 
offered to shelter me at all times of my need. I cannot help 
reflecting on the change that I have experienced in these circum- 
stances. When I first came to Leeds I lodged in public-houses, 
and went supperless to bed." 

Still, Mr. Clowes' visits to these parts, though pretty frequent, 
were only flying ones, and, unless there had been some reliable men 

on the ground, a permanent interest could scarcely have been built up. But there were 
such reliable men who, as' personal factors in the upbuilding of Primitive Methodism 
in Leeds and around, demand recognition. Messrs. Verity and S. Smith almost 
immediately entered the ministry, but their places were taken and their work carried 
on by others. Two of these also became travelling preachers John Hopkinson and 
John Bywater but not until they had rendered effective service locally, while John 
Reynard remained on the ground until his death in 1854, and was a tower of strength 
to the societies. 

John Hopkinson, born at Ardsley near Wakefield, in 1801, was the son of the 
Mrs. Hopkinson in whose house W. Clowes enrolled the members of the first class. 
He received his first spiritual good amongst the Wesleyans, but when John Verity was 
expelled for complicity with " Ranterism," he joined the new community. His reasons 
for doing so, as stated by himself, are worth giving. They were: (1) His strong 
attachment to J. Verity, who was his guide, philosopher, and friend. (2) The simple, 
pointed style of their preaching was congenial to his taste. (3) 
Their open-air movements he cordially approved. (4) Their 
field of action found employment for talents of the humblest 
order. So, under the stress of these views and considerations, 
he became a Primitive Methodist. He undertook the leader- 
ship of the society at Dudley Hill, though it was eleven miles 
from his residence. In 1820 he began to preach, and three 
years after he entered the ministry, and for thirty-five years he 
continued in active service. In summing up his character and 
work his biographer has stated : " He was an exemplary Christian 
and a laborious-vminister. . . . He was connected with the 
admission of 3700 members into society; his prayers were pointed; 

his sermons well arranged and powerful; he travelled on twenty -five stations. He 
faithfully served God and his generation, and his end was peace."* 

* Memoir in the Magazine for 1859, p. 391. 



John By-water is a name that calls for rehabilitation. He has received but scant 
recognition and fallen into undeserved neglect. Until the late Dr. Joseph Wood 
chivalrously vindicated his name,* little remained to show the kind of man he was, and 
how worthy to be remembered by the denomination he served so well. True : there is 
the official memoir in the Conference Minutes of 1870, but there is little else ; and that 
memoir is so short that it can be given here in its entirety without making undue 
demands on our space. Says the official penman : 

" John Bywater was a native of the town of Leeds, Yorkshire. In his youth he 
was converted to God and united with the Primitive Methodists. He commenced 
his itinerant ministry at the Conference of 1825, and subsequently laboured in and 
superintended some of the most important circuits in the Connexion. For five 
years he was General Missionary Secretary. He was superannuated by the Con- 
ference of 1860, and died at Cote Houses in the Scotter Circuit, October 12th, 1869, 
aged 65 years." 

Between the facts here stated and the shortness of the notice there is a striking dis- 
parity. We need not go into the reasons for this studied brevity and speedy relapse 
into silence. The reasons if reasons there were, hold good no longer, and it is time 
we saw the man in his true perspective and proportions. If he did through inexperience 
and shattered health fail comparatively as a farmer, on his enforced and somewhat early 
retirement, he had not failed as a chapel-builder, as an administrator, as a preacher, as 
a friend, as a Christian minister. Thus much is due to his name. In Leeds, young 
Bywater was true and loyal. During the early troubles which overtook the society, we 
are told that John Hopkinson and John Bywater were true comrades and yoke-fellows ; 
"they stood firm for Connexional rule, and almost laboured themselves into the grave 
to save the cause from wreck ; and success crowned their efforts." 

The allusion here made to the storm-cloud which burst over Leeds Primitive Methodism 
in the early days, calls for a little fuller reference before we go on to glance at one or 
two other workers. " Revivalism," as we have defined it, did Primitive Methodism 
some good ; it also did it some harm. So Leeds, like other places, found to its cost. 
Revivalism helped to found the Leeds Society, and it all but succeeded in shattering it. 
We have, in writing of Hull, referred to the group of preaching and praying women 
notably Ann Carr, Miss Williams, and Miss Healand who carried on evangelistic 
labours in Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire. There is evidence to show 
that the Misses Carr and Williams were counted as Primitive Methodists, and not merely 
accepted as unattached auxiliaries. At the March, 1820, Quarter Day of the Hull 
Circuit, a letter was sent to Miss Carr asking if she were willing to enter the ministry. 
Ann Carr was born at Market Rasen in 1738, and died June 18th, 1841. In Leeds 
she and her friend Williams laboured hard and formed many friendships. There was 
a good deal of the masculine in Ann Carr's composition, and neither she nor her 
colleague took very kindly to the yoke imposed by a regularly organised Connexion. 
They preferred to hold a roving commission and to take an erratic course, letting fancy 

* " Becollections of John Bywater and Early Chapel-building in the town of Hull by J. "Wood, D.D." 

Aldersgate Magazine, 1898. 



or circumstances determine their direction and procedure. It is intimated by Mr. George 
Allen that they had no predilection for the plan, but were quite willing on invitation to 
take the pulpits of those who were planned, and that misunderstandings and collisions 
were the natural result. Being called to account for irregular movements associated 
with officiousness, they took offence and, parading their grievances, made a division. 
A chapel was ultimately built by the separatists in Leyland, which became known as 
Ann Carr's Chapel. This interest was sustained with varying success for a long period. 
At length signs of physical and mental failure began to show themselves in the once 
vigorous woman, and a short time before her death Ann Carr went back to her first 
love and reunited with the Wesleyans, who purchased her chapel. A " Life " of her 
was published, peculiar in this that it is almost silent as to her former connection with 
our Church. Any one unacquainted with her career would never suspect on reading 
the book that she was at one time so prominent a Primitive Methodist. The memoirs 
in God's book are written with greater impartiality. 

When the clouds rolled by, John Reynard was found at his post. Born in 1800, Mr. 
Reynard was converted through hearing Gideon Ousley (the famous Irish evangelist), 
on one of his visits to Leeds. He iinited with the Wesleyans and remained with them 
until 1820, when he was invited by S. Smith (whose sister he married) to attend the 
preaching service then held in a house in Hill-house Bank. 

" He acceded to the invitation and was edified and blessed ; so much so that he 
said to his friend : ' I shall walk into the country this afternoon, and if the society 
be as lively there as it is in Leeds I shall join you.' The two walked to Armley for 
the afternoon service. Mr. J. Flockton preached, and the same Divine influence 
attended the Word as had been felt during the morning service in Leeds. Mr. 
Reynard, therefore, decided to cast in his lot with our people, and on May 16th, 
1820, he joined Mr. J. Button's class. When Mr. Button was taken out to travel 
he was appointed to take charge of the class, and continued its leader for many 
years." Memoir in Magazine, 1855, pp. 193-4. 

The estimate of Mr. Reynard's character, as given by Mr. 
Petty in his "History," needs no revision. It is just and dis- 
criminating, and hence worthy to be handed down as a carefully 
written judgment based on personal knowledge. 

" Mr. Reynard, says Mr. Petty, soon became a useful and 
distinguished member. Possessing promising talents, he 
was speedily called to exercise his gifts in public speak- 
ing, in which he proved to be more than ordinarily 
acceptable and useful. He had a sound judgment, clear 
views of evangelical truth, a retentive memory, a ready 
command of language, a distinct utterance, and consider- 
able power over an audience. His pulpit and platform 
efforts were highly estimated everywhere, and were 
frequently in requisition, both in his own circuit, and 
in numerous other stations. For thirty-four years he 

devoted his energies to the work of a local preacher, and reaped a large 
.measure of success. He was an enlightened and ardent friend of the community 





of which he was an ornament, and took a large share in its most important 
transactions. He was not only a leading man in his own circuit, where his 
influence was great, and beneficially exerted ; but was likewise raised to the 
highest offices of trust and responsibility which the Connexion 
could confer upon a layman, being constituted a permanent member 
of Conference, which he regularly attended, and at which he 
rendered valuable service. He pursued a sound course in matters 
of Church business, and studied to promote the best interests of 
the Connexion. For some time previous to his death, it was 
evident to his friends that he was ripening for the garner of God. 
He became increasingly dead to the world, and more spiritual 
and heavenly in his temper and disposition. His removal to the 
celestial country was affectingly sudden. On Sunday, December 
17th, 1854, he attended his preaching appointment at Kippax, 
near Leeds, and while engaged in prayer in the congregation, his 
voice began to fail, and the last words he was heard to utter, 
were, ' Lord Jesus, bless me ! O God ! come to my help ! ' A paralytic stroke 
deprived him of speech, and of the use of his right side. He lingered until the 
Wednesday following, when he expired without a lingering groan, aged fifty- 
four years. On December 24th, 1854, ' devout men carried him to his burial 
in Woodhouse Cemetery, and made great lamentation over him.' He died com- 
paratively young ; but he had been permitted to perform a large share of useful 
service in the Church of Christ, and to the glory of his Saviour's name." 

It is pleasing to know that fifty years after Mr. Reynard's death the family has still 
its representatives in Leeds Primitive Methodism. We give the portrait of his amiable 
daughter, the late Mrs. Brogden, whose husband, Mr. Alexander Brogden, was an 
earnest worker in our Church, and for many years superintendent of Quarry Hill 
Sunday school ; while Mrs. Brogden herself (obiit -December, 1902) was for ten 
years a class-leader, and also a successful Sabbath school teacher at Quarry Hill 
and Belle Vue. 

If John Keynard was the Primitive Methodist bookbinder, John Parrot was perhaps 
for a considerable time its best-known printer. His imprint is to 
be found on " The Primitive Pulpit " and many other books and 
pamphlets printed in the 'Fifties and 'Sixties. A native of Hull 
and connected with Mill Street Society he removed to Halifax 
in 1835, where he became a local preacher. Two years after he 
settled in Leeds, where he lived and worked until his death in 
1871. He was a hard worker, and what was less common in those 
days a lover of fun and frolic. He filled and fulfilled many offices, 
but probably the best and most lasting work he did was his 
Bible-teaching. There are those occupying important positions in 
the Church to-day who will be ready to express their obligations 
to the genial printer. 

In 1820 Leeds was made a branch of Hull Circuit, and it is an interesting coincidence 
that Samuel Laister, the first Primitive preacher the deputation heard on their visit to 
Ferrybridge, was one of the first preachers of the Leeds Branch. Samuel Laister was 



a native of historic Epworth, and was of Methodist parentage. In the 
Magazine for 1784 there is given a remarkable dream of the Last Judgment dreamed 
by the father of Samuel, to which his conversion and that of his four brothers was 
directly attributable. He removed to Market Weighton and became a Primitive 
Methodist local preacher, and in September, 1820, went out to travel. We shall soon 
meet with him again at Malton, and especially at Darlington, where he finished his 
course. From a branch Leeds became a circuit in 1822, having no fewer than ten preachers 
down for it on the stations, of whom John Coulson is the first. The same year Quarry 
Hill chapel was built, which through many changes still survives as one of the historic 
chapels of Primitive Methodism. This year was also notable for the action taken by 
the December Quarterly Meeting in sending two missionaries to London, of which we 
shall have to speak more fully in another connection. In 1823 the fourth Conference 
was held at Leeds. Apart from the action taken in regard to the new hymn book,* 
perhaps the most noteworthy transaction of this Conference related to the establishment 
of a Preachers' Friendly Society. It was ordered that one preacher from each circuit 
should attend a meeting at Hull, on August 24th, for the purpose of making the needful 
arrangements, but with the fettering proviso that " the preachers shall not be allowed 
to beg for the establishing of the fund." We are not surprised to learn that this 
restriction, felt to be so galling, was removed the very next year. Though the religious 
services in connection with the first Leeds Conference are said to have been powerful 
and fruitful, and the hospitality of the Leeds friends exceedingly hearty, yet, we are 
told by W. Clowes, there were several matters of a trying nature to occupy the attention 
of the delegates. As a whole, considerable progress had been made during the year, 
but some of the circuits had become embarrassed, and the Connexion was entering 
within the penumbra of its temporary eclipse. The Conference over, Hugh Bourne 
thought it his duty to write an admonitory letter to the preachers,t at the same time 
asking them to contribute towards the relief of the embarrassed circuits. The appeal 
met with little response four pounds, which included one pound given by himself, 
being the net result. This moved him further to address "A Private Communication," 
reflecting strongly upon certain "runners-out of circuits," and pointedly calling 
attention to particular cases of irregularity. The drastic character of this " private com- 
munication" naturally created heart-burnings, and ensured warm discussions at the 
annual meeting at Halifax. Of the second Leeds Conference that of 1818 of which 
Thomas King was the President, and Emerson Muschamp, of Weardale, the Secretary, 
little need be said, as it does not appear to have been concerned in any weighty matters. 
Let some of the administrative changes through which the original Leeds Circuit has 
passed be briefly chronicled. First, Bradford (to be hereafter referred to) was made 
a Circuit in 1823, then Otley was taken from Leeds, and for two years (1824-5) ranked 
as an independent circuit. Dewsbury also stood on the Conference Minutes 
1824-8 as a circuit in its own right. Afterwards both Otley and Dewsbury reverted 

* See ante., vol. ii., p. 10. 

t"A number of our Yorkshire circuits, with one in Derbyshire, and some of the Lancashire 
circuits, are considerably embarrassed ; and some of them are grievously embarrassed." H. Bourne's 
Letter to the Preachers, June 6th, 1823. 




to Leeds. Then, in 1840, Utley again acquired independence. In 1849, when 
that capable minister, Richard Davies, was the superintendent, Leeds was still 
one circuit, though a powerful one with 1162 members. It comprised the Home 
Branch and the South Leeds and Dewsbury Branches. In 1850 
South Leeds became a separate station, and three years later 
was called Leeds Second. Dewsbury remained a branch until 1 85 7,. 
when it was granted autonomy. In 1862 the West Branch of 
Leeds First became Leeds Third or Relioboth. These dry, though 
necessary, details are of some significance as showing how modern 
and even quite recent has been the development of Leeds Primitive 
Methodism with its existing eight circuits. Statistics not just here- 
in place would confirm the impression that the story of this 
development of which on its material side some idea may be 
gained from our page illustration of Leeds chapels belongs to the 


later period of our history. 

Information respecting the history of Primitive Methodism during the first period is- 
regrettably scanty. We are, therefore, all the more beholden to Mr. George Allen for 
his published jottings on our history in Leeds.* Mr. Allen became a scholar in the 
Sunday school, then conducted in Shannon Street, as early as 1823, and afterwards an 
active and useful official of the Leeds First Circuit. To him we are indebted for a few 
facts relating to the genesis of the Leeds Second and Third Circuits which shall be 
given in his own words : 

"A Mr. William Armitage, who lived in Wheeler Street, Bank, Leeds, about 1833, 
removed to Park Lane, and carried his religious influence with him. A prayer 
meeting was held at Mrs. Blakey's, Hanover Square, afterwards. On Sunday 
nights a preaching service was held at Mr. Tyas', in Chatham Street, and in a short 
time a. class meeting was held on Monday afternoons at Mr. Tyas'. Thus the work 
spread until they took a room in Park Lane, which had been a joiner's shop. Then 
Rehoboth chapel and the houses connected with it were built (1839), the Lord being 
their helper. But before this, preaching services had been commenced in a yard in 
Meadow Lane. After that they built a chapel in a yard because, I suppose, they 
could get the land there at a cheap rate. , . . The chapel at Holbeck was parted 
with in about 1836 and Prince's Field Chapel built, which is now in Leeds Second 
Circuit ; Park Lane (Rehoboth) being in the Third." 

The facts here given may usefully serve as points de repere, but we want something 
more. Fortunately we get some side-lights illuminating the facts here barely given 
from the lives of Thomas Batty and Atkinson Smith, who were the ministers of Leeds 
Circuit from 1831 to 1833. In these two years they made full proof of their ministry, 
with the result that there was an increase of three hundred to the membership of the 
Church. We have already indicated what were the outstanding features of Atkinson 
Smith's character and ministry. These were never more conspicuously in evidence 
than during his two years' term in Leeds. His biographer, who travelled in the Leeds 
Circuit in 1842 and took his bride, Sarah Bickerstaffe, to the preacher's house at 

* "A History of Primitive Methodism in Leeds (1819-1888)," by George Allen. 


Quarry Hill, adduces the testimony of a Leeds class-leader to the influence of Atkinson 
Smith's prayers and labours. When we know that the class-leader in question was 
John Reynard, and that it was in his house the young preacher resided, the testimony 
is weighty indeed. 

" ' Leeds Circuit,' says Mr. Reynard, ' owes its rise in a great measure to the 
prayers of Atkinson Smith.' And then, pointing to his chamber floor, he observed : 
' I have known him be on these boards for four hours together, agonising in prayer.' 
I [C. Kendall] found many who owned him as their father in Christ. . . Among 
many others to whom his labours were made a blessing was Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe, 
who became a well-known minister of our Church." 

In 1832 Leeds suffered severely from the visitation of the cholera. As in 
Manchester, so here, during the ravages of this fell disease, special attention was given 
to open-air services. " The preachers were set at liberty from their week-night appoint- 
ments that they might concentrate their efforts on the living masses of the town." 
Atkinson Smith did not shrink from visiting the cholera hospital to " rescue the 
perishing and care for the dying." 

Here is an extract from A. Smith's Journal relating to Bramley, now Leeds Fifth 
Circuit, with which we close, for the present, our notice of Leeds. 

" September 13th, 1831. I went to Bramley, a place containing five or six thousand 
inhabitants. We have only ten members, and seldom more than twenty hearers. 
I resolved to re-mission the place ; Wm. Pickard joined me. We took a lantern, 
went to the bottom of the village, and began to sing 'We are bound for the 
Kingdom,' etc. Three hundred people accompanied us to the chapel. I preached 
to them, but nut with my usual liberty ; yet the revival began that night, and in 
a short time forty or fifty persons found the Lord.' 'To this day,' adds the 
biographer, writing in 1854, 'the people of Bramley speak of Smith's seeking a 
revival with a lantern and candle.' ;> 



[HEN I look at the work in Yorkshire, it is amazing ! Many chapels are 
built, and the land generally spread with living Churches, and hundreds of 
souls brought to God." So Clowes wrote in March, 1821, and the purpose 
of this chapter is, if possible, to convey the impression that the wonder 
expressed by Clowes concerning " the work in Yorkshire " was natural and justified by 
current events and by what resulted from them . in other words, it is to be attempted to 
show that the wide and rapid extension of Primitive Methodism through the agency 
of Clowes and his fellow-workers of the Hull Circuit in 1820-1 is, so far as this side 
of our island is concerned, the outstanding fact to be noted and made to yield its 

Rigid adherence to the chronological order of circuit formation would, for once, fail to 
do justice to the facts of our history and gain from them the right impression. York, 
Leeds, Malton, Ripon were the only circuits in this part of Yorkshire made in 1822 ; 
yet, by that time, all the country lying between these towns was overrun and as it were 
pre-empted for the Connexion. Tadcaster, Driffield, Scarborough, Bridlington, might 
not permanently become Circuits till long after, probably because they were comparatively 
close to Hull and under its fostering care and guardianship ; none the less, these and 
other Yorkshire towns, with the villages they served, were once for all won for the 
Connexion by the movement of 1821-2. Primitive Methodism paid no transient visit, 
but entered to stay. It was only when Yorkshire had been thus traversed and practi- 
cally secured, that the North was almost simultaneously reached by two distinct lines of 
advance the one via Brompton and Guisboro', the other via Ripon and Darlington. 
We propose then in this chapter to show how this base was secured, and in doing so, 
the most natural course will be to begin with Tadcaster whose borders marched with 
those of Leeds on one side and with those of York and Brotherton on the other and 
then to follow the geographical spread of the movement which swept Yorkshire in what 
Clowes, who was in the midst of it, thought an amazing manner. This method is all 
the more necessary as, even after June, 1820, when branches were formed, their 
boundaries were often crossed. What with frequent interchanges and sallies and 
excursions it is difficult to locate the preachers. They are now here, now there, pur- 
suing the work of evangelisation. Practically the East and North Ridings were during 
this period one big Circuit. 




We begin then with the ancient and interesting town of Tadcaster, lying on the direct 
road between Leeds and York, from which towns it is fourteen and nineteen miles distant 
respectively. It is also on the Great North Road and, with its ancient bridge crossing 
the Wharfe, it was as the postern-gate to the city of York. Its position accounts for the 
fact that the two most decisive and bloody battles recorded in English history Towton 
and Marston Moor, were fought within a few miles of the town, while, in 1642, Sir 
Thomas Fairfax and the Earl of Newcastle contended in the slreets of Tadcaster itself 
for the possession of the all-important bridge. 

Primitive Methodism was introduced into Tadcaster as early as June 1820 by 
Nathaniel West who, like 
John Flesher, began his 
ministry here. So success- 
ful was N. West's Tadcaster 
mission that, by September, 
he could report that one 
hundred and thirty -nine 
members had been enrolled 
in the town and neighbour- 
ing villages which 

Clowes held Open-air Services 
here in 1825. 


assiduously visited. His 
three months' labour re- 
sulted also in the acquisi- 
tion of a chapel, by 
which we are probably 
to understand the renting 
and fitting up of the room 
in Wighill Lane, shoAvn 
in our picture. Tradition 
says that this had formerly been used by a sweep, and that at this early stage of 
the society's progress three soldiers, whose duty it was to serve as escort to the post 
from York to Wetherby, rendered good service. Before leaving Tadcaster for the 
Malton Branch, N. AVest took part in the opening services along with J. Farrar 
and Mrs. EL Woolhouse, of Hull, and her travelling-preacher son. After being 
in use for two years, the first chapel was built in Rosemary Row. This building, we 
are told, ultimately fell into the hands of the Roman Catholics who, in order to- 

Scene of First Camp Meeting, and where Camp Meetings 

were held for fifty years, in field behind trees on the left of picture, and 

right on the banks of the river Wharfe. 



erase the words "Primitive Methodist Chapel," had a cross cut in the stone-work 
between the windows. If the old chapel was thus perverted, the " Applegarth," 
the old cam]) meeting site, picturesquely situated by the river Wharfe, where for 
fifty years camp meetings were wont to be held, was interdicted to the society. Here, 
in 1825 W. Clowes took part in a famous camp meeting. But Tadcaster is a brewery 
town, and, on the field being let to a brewer, its owner stipulated that no more camp 
meetings should be held therein. The present chapel, it may be mentioned, was built 
in 1865, at a total cost, with schoolroom, of 1008. 

We cannot linger on Tadcaster. It is now a small and, numerically, feeble station; 
but its history shows that, relatively, it was formerly of much greater importance than 
it is to-day. The town has 
held, and more than held, 
its own. Some places have 
been given to Selby Circuit ; 
but there has been shrinkage 
in relation to the village 
interests, which old journals 
and documents show were 

End building, Rosemary Kow. 


once numerous and compara- 
tively vigorous. The towns 
and large urban centres had 
not begun, like the fabled Min- 
otaur, to deplete and devour 
the village populations. It 
may be worth while to indi- 
cate in a separate paragraph (which the reader can skip if he choose) the vicissitudes 
through which the Tadcaster Circuit has passed. The record may be regarded as 
typical of many that might be given, and as not being without historical value as 
suggesting the difficulties which the retention of our village circuits has involved. 

The Tadcaster mission of Hull Circuit, opened by Nathaniel West, June, 1820, 
became a branch of Hull Circuit in September of the same year, and so continued 
until the close of 1824, when it was attached to York Circuit. In 1826 it was 
constituted part of the "Tadcaster and Ferrybridge Circuit." It stood on the 
Minutes as an independent station from 1827 to 1837, in which latter year it had 


214 members. Henceforward, until 1850, it was once more a branch of Hull. It 
assumed circuit rank again in 1851-2. From 1853 to 1863, inclusive, it was a branch 
of Scarborough. Lastly, in 1864 it was again made a circuit, and as such has 

During its long and somewhat chequered history, Tadcaster has had a succession of 
staunch adherents who have stood by the cause in sunshine and shade. "We find the 
name of John Swinden figuring in documents of the early 'Thirties. He and his 
wife Elizabeth were converts of W. Clowes in 1825, and ever since 1835 there have 
been two of this name on the plan. The Rev. John Swinden, a scion of this family, is 
one of the goodly .number Tadcaster Circuit has sent into the ranks of the regular 
ministry. Of these the Rev. Wilson Eccles is another modern representative. Three 
of the aforesaid Elizabeth Swinden's brothers Atkinson by name became useful local 
preachers, while a fourth was class-leader. Thus we see again the hereditary principle 
at work. 


When Ripon is mentioned, we are not to think merely of the pretty though somewhat 
sleepy city on the Ure, with its ancient Cathedral of St. Wilfrid, together with its 
adjacent villages, which represents the Ripon Circuit of to-day. Rather are we to 
figure to ourselves a tract of country stretching from the borders of Leeds and Tadcaster 
Circuits to Middleham, and from the valley of the IS'idd to Thirsk, comprising what 
-are now the Harrogate, Knaresboro', Pateley Bridge, Thirsk, Ripon, Bedale, and 
Middleham Circuits. They took seizin of this country for the Connexion, though 
as yet all of it might not be effectively occupied. The Ripon Circuit, formed in 1822, 
ultimately grew to be with its branches one of the most extensive Circuits in the 
Connexion, and, after 1824, when it was incorporated with the newly formed Sunder- 
land District, it was travelled by some of the best known and most capable ministers of 
that District. 

W. Clowes opened Knaresbro' as early as October 24th, 1819, by preaching "abroad" 
amid wind and rain at nine o'clock in the morning, and in a dwelling-house in the 
-evening. On the Tuesday following, he preached in a different part of the town and 
formed a society of four members. Two other visits to Knaresbro' were paid before 
the year closed, and kindly mention is made of an old Scotchwoman, Mary Brownridge, 
who bade him welcome to what her house afforded. At already fashionable Harrogate 
" the uncircumcised fastened the door of the house he was in " to prevent his egress ; 
but he got out at the back of the premises. At Killinghall, hard by, he preached in a 
joiner's shop and in the Wesleyan Chapel, and while at family prayers next morning at 
the house of Mr. Swales, two of his servant-men cried out for mercy. It was while 
tramping through the snow from Harrogate to Leeds that Clowes had his encounter 
with a gentleman riding a very fine horse, who proved to be the Vicar of Harewood. 
The long discussion between them led Clowes to indulge in sundry reflections, one of 
which was that, notwithstanding all his privations and sufferings, and the toil and 
persecution he suffered as a missionary of the cross, he would not exchange situations 
with the Vicar of Harewood, "for," adds he, "my religion makes my soul happy." Mr. 
Clowes also visited Whixley, the home of the Annakin family, and Burton Leonard, 




where a good society was formed, and especially Marton-cum-Grafton. Here Mr. Mark 
Xoble, a Wesleyan, incurring censure for countenancing and aiding and abetting the- 
missionary, felt constrained to join the society that was formed, and henceforth freely 
extended hospitality to the preachers. In the revival which took place at this time, 
Mr. Thomas Dawson, by far the ablest and most influential 
official of the Ripon Circuit in the early days, was brought to- 
God. He entered the ministry, but was obliged to relinquish 
it after eighteen months' trial, his strength not being equal 
to the heavy demands of the work. He located in the Ripon 
Circuit, and as an evidence of the respect entertained for him 
by his brethren, who well knew his loyalty and the value of his 
counsel, he was elected a deed poll member at the Conference 
of 1856. The Rev. Colin C. McKechnie, who knew him in- 
timately, has left a pen-and-ink sketch of Mr. Dawson, which 
we have pleasure in quoting. 

" Mr. Thomas Dawson was, beyond question, the most 
gifted of all our laymen. He was well-informed, had 
a keen perception, and a logical mind. Nothing pleased him more than taking part 
in a debate ; and if he had anything like a good case in hand, he was almost sure 
to win. Indeed, if the case were bad, the chances were in his favour, for he had the 
faculty of making the ' worse appear the better reason.' He delighted in the 
society of the preachers, and in meeting them at his house. Afflicted with 
asthma, he was at times compelled to sit up at nights, as he could not lie. At such 
times if a preacher happened to be with him, he would spend hours in discussion, 
the subjects often being of an abstruse and metaphysical nature. One night 
I spent with him was devoted almost entirely to the discussion of 

' Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute.' 

And he seemed to forget all his ailments in the polemical ardour with which he 
repelled the Calvinistic views taken of those high subjects. Mr. Dawson was a 
thoroughly good man, upright, devoted, zealous in Christian work, and an out-and- 
out Primitive." * 

Mr. Clowes entered the city of Ripon for the first time on March 4th, 1820. A local 
preacher being planned at the Wesleyan chapel on this Sabbath whose face Avas almost 
unknown to the congregation, Clowes was privately pressed to take his place, and at 
last consented. The service was a powerful one, and either the preacher's matter or 
manner betrayed him, for, when the congregation were dispersing, one said, aloud : " If 
theee be ' Ranters,' then I am a ' Ranter.' " The evening service, we are told, was held 
in the house of Mr. B. Spetch, in Bondgate, and in the prayer meeting which followed,. 
William Rumfitt and Moses Lupton, afterwards General Missionary Secretary, and 
President, were two out of fourteen who professed to find the Saviour. A strong society 
was almost immediately formed, which received numerous accessions from the somewhat 
frequent visits to Ripon paid by Clowes during the year, as noted in his published 
Journal. As early as June, 1820, Ripon was made a branch, and in September three 
preachers were stationed to it, viz., James Farrar, Robert Ripley, and John Garbutt, 

*Rev. C. C. McKechnie's MS. "Autobiography," in the possession of the author. 


A month after we find W. Clowes taking part in the opening of a new chapel at 
Martin-cum-Grafton, and once more we meet with Mrs. Woolhouse assisting in the 

Amongst those who travelled the extensive Ripon Circuit in the first period were 

several with whose names and work we shall become 
familiar in writing of the Northern District; men like 
John Lightfoot, John Branfoot, William Lister, W. Dent, 
John Day, Thomas Southron. Nor should we omit 
mention of Mary Porteus, who was on the circuit's staff of 
preachers from 1828 to 1830. On the intellectual side 
she must be regarded as taking a high place amongst 
our female itinerants. She did not come behind any of 
them in piety and zeal, and she excelled most of them 
in preaching power. The Rev. W. Dent a competent 
judge has said of her, " that it was really a privilege to 
hear her preach, for she had both the requisite gifts and 
grace." Mary Porteus was a native of Gateshead and 
entered the ministry in 1826, taking circuit work until 
1840, when enfeebled health compelled her retirement. 
For one of her sex and constitution Ripon was an 

exacting station. Some idea of the physical toil involved in the working of such 
a Circuit may be gathered from the statement of the Rev. W. Lister that, during 
the three years of his superin tendency of the Ripon Circuit, 1835-8, he had walked 
2,400 miles. 

In speaking of the early history of the Ripon Circuit it 
would be almost unpardonable to make no reference to 
Joseph Spoor, who had so much to do with the shaping of 
that history. In a very real sense he made his mark on 
the Circuit, and it was equally true that the Ripon Circuit 
left its mark on him, for it was while labouring, as he only 
could, in the Middleham Mission of this station forty- 
seven miles in length and twenty in breadth that he 
broke down in health, and had to superannuate for a time. 
Yet he was no weakling. Indeed, when Thomas Dawson 
secured him at the District Meeting of 1835 for the Ripon 
Circuit, well knowing he " could toil terribly," he was in 
the full vigour of his powers. He had a compact, sinewy, 
agile frame. He was courageous as a lion, and yet he 
could show on occasion of an emergency much tact and 
resourcefulness. He made no pretension to learning or ITEUS. 

eloquence. He spoke out in plain Saxon, and the themes on which he discoursed 
presented little variety; but his own soul kindled as he spoke, and the old themes 
were all aglow like Moses' bush that burned unconsumed in fire. Added to all this, 
there was at times a dash of eccentricity about his movements both in and out of the 




pulpit which attracted the attention of men and made him popular. Many of the 
well-known incidents associated with his name occurred during his term of labour in 
Ripon and its various branches, which term was remarkable for a great revival of 
religion one that was not restricted to a few places but spread over nearly the whole 
Circuit. New societies were raised in several places, and others that had seriously 
declined were revived. It was just after this revival that the Circuit was formed 

into branches. 

In 1837, Mr. Spoor was appointed to labour on the 
Thirsk and Bedale Mission. At the village of Langthorne 
the outlook was at first exceedingly unpromising. But 
he was told there was hope for the place if only John 
Hobson, the tallest man in the village, could be won 
for Christ. Thereupon Mr. Spoor and his colleague. 
W. Fulton, covenanted to pray at a given hour each day 
for the conversion of this village champion and son of 
Anak. Shortly after this, John Hobson was drawn by 
some irresistible influence to a service conducted by 
Mr. Spoor. Unmistakably enough it was he; for, like 
Saul, he towered head and shoulders above the rest. 
John Hobson was converted and became the leader and 
staunch supporter of the village society. 

In December, 1837, Mr. Spoor was appointed to open 
a Mission at Boroughbridge. It was while preaching 
on a village-green near this old town that he had his encounter with the Anglican 
priest who in his wrath threatened to stop him. To this Mr. Spoor replied : " There 
are several ways of stopping you, but there's only one way of stopping me. Take 
away your gown, and you dare not preach ; take a\vay your book, and you cannot 
preach ; and take away your rich income, and you won't preach ; while the only 
way to stop me is by cutting out my tongue." Of course the retort was not original ; 
but it leaped forth on occasion like a trenchant impromptu and shows the readiness of 
the man. 

Mr. Spoor and Fulton were dragged before the magistrates by an officious policeman for 
a service which they held in Ripon Market-place. It seemed that despite all they might 
say they were to be sent to prison. Spoor rejoiced at the opportunity of suffering for 
the sake of the Gospel and shouted : " Glory be to God ! the ' kittie ' for Christ ! " but 
a prominent citizen came into Court, expostulated with the magistrates and put a new 
face on the matter. It is said that a long and able letter appeared in the newspaper 
insisting upon the right to conduct worship in the open air, and reflecting upon the 
conduct of the policeman and the magistrates, and that the letter was from the pen of 
Dr. Longley, then Bishop of Ripon, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. 

But, to our thinking, an incident narrated by Rev. C. C. McKechnie shows Mr. 
Spoor in a still more attractive light. Mr. McKechnie had as a lad of seventeen just 
arrived from his distant home in Paisley to begin his labours in the Ripon Circuit. 
Rather cruelly, his superintendent had made him preach in the city on the very evening 




of his arrival, and the service had been to him a trying one. The next day as he sat 
in his lodgings he was much cast down. The rest of the story shall be told in Mr. 
McKechnie's own words : 

' ' Something like despair settled upon me, and it seemed to grow thicker and 
faster. In the early afternoon, as I sat in my room brooding over the past, present 
and future, I wrote all sorts of bitter things against myself for having ventured 
upon such an enterprise, so unfurnished for my work, and so ignorant of what I 
was doing. Whilst thus depressed and desponding the tears coursing down my 
cheeks, my room-door opened, and Mr. Joseph Spoor walked in. And here let me 
say with thankfulness, his coming was like the visit of an angel of God. His 
presence brought a blessing with it. A more peaceful, spiritual, brotherly face 


I had never looked upon, and the tones of his voice had a healing and reviving 
influence upon my poor bruised heart. He seemed to comprehend my case in a 
moment. I cannot express the fulness and sweetness of his sympathy, or the 
gentle but effectual way in which he swept away my brooding fears. ' Oh, 
dear, no ! I had no reason to be despondent ; that was the work of the enemy. 
I might be sure my way would brighten. Get on ? Oh, yes ! I would get on beyond 
doubt. I must look up and trust and pray and work, and all would turn out well. 
I would meet with many kind-hearted people who would help and cheer me in 
every way.' With such words as these, backed by a few mighty words of prayer, 
Mr. Spoor exorcised the evil spirit, and left me a new man. Yes ; I may truly say 
I was made a new man ; a new life inspired me. I now felt ashamed of my 



cowardly fears. No ; I would not succumb to the difficulties of my lot. I had 
come out into this field of labour in response to what I believed to be a divine call, 
and I would, by the help of God, prove myself worthy of it." (MS, Autobiography.) 


We give, below, the ministerial fixtures for September-December, 1820, made by the 
Hull Circuit authorities : 

"Hull. William Clowes, John Hewson, Edward Vause, and John Armitage. 

Brotherton. John Woolhouse and John Branfoot. 

Pocklington. John Verity, John Harvey, and William Evans. 

Ripon. James Farrar, Robert Ripley, and John Garbutt. 

Tadcaster. Thomas Johnson, John Abey, and Samuel Smith. 

Leeds. Samuel Laister and Thomas Nelson. 

Malton. Nathaniel West and John Lawton. 

Drijfield. Robert Howcroft. 

Bridlington. John Coulson." 

Rightly regarded, this prosaic-looking record is full of significance. It illustrates yet 
again W. Clowes' judgment as to the "amazing work" carried on by Hull in 1820-2. 
It is only one year and nine months since Primitive Methodism was introduced into 
Hull, and yet no inconsiderable portion of the broad-acred county has been divided up 
and allotted to the preachers of the Hull Circuit. Still, this record is manifestly 
incomplete, for it leaves out York, where, as we have seen, a chapel was opened in 
July, 1820, and several preachers whose names stand on the Minutes of the first 
Conference have no mention in this table. Another thing we may learn from this 
record : It shows that the towns and slices of country we are writing of are not to be 
regarded as isolated and independent, but as parts of one whole to be operated upon by 
a simultaneous movement directed from Hull. 

At this early period the preachers were usually changed every three months, and 
sometimes even oftener than that. They were transferred from one branch of the 
circuit to another like Salvation Army captains by the head-quarters staff. They are 
all Hull Circuit preachers, but are shifted from branch to branch like pawns on a chess- 
board. Was the shortness of the term of service conducive to concentration and intensity 
of labour? Perhaps so. With three months only available to justify his appointment 
or otherwise, the days were precious and not to be let pass without crowding them with 
work. Hull Circuit had a long arm, and held its preachers with a tight hand. At 
each quarter day inquisition was made of a minute and searching kind, embracing not 
only inquiries as to the preacher's success as a soul-winner, but extending even to the 
cut of his hair and coat, and the correctness of his deportment. As late as 1832, 
a preacher, whom it may suffice to name J. P., was suspended, "for being late at 
Easterington Chapel, lying late in the morning, speaking crossly at Preston to some 
children when taking breakfast, and, finally, for eating the inside of some pie and 
leaving the crust ! " The charges were on the face of them petty enough, but probably 
there lay, behind, the conviction that the brother was unadapted and unadaptable to 
the work he had undertaken. 

The record given above may also serve as a recapitulation and forecast. Hull home- 


branch, together with Pocklington, Brotherton, Hutton Rudby, York, Leeds, and 
Tadcaster, have been referred to. Now, by 1820, we see that a beginning has been 
made with Driffield and the Wold-towns. " Bridlington " means that the sea-coast of 
the East and North Ridings, over and above Holderness, has to be missioned ; while 
"Malton" means that the country lying north of Pocklington and the Wolds and 
between the Hambledon Hills and the sea-coast, and stretching northwards to the 
Cleveland Hills, has to be attempted. Nor must we forget that Hutton Rudby is 
already an independent circuit, and, by 1822, will have reached Guisborough. So, 
although the discovery of the rich beds of hematite are still in the future, and no one 
as yet dreams of the busy iron-towns which one day will stand on the flats by the 
estuary of the Tees, still in that direction the country, such as it was, had by 1822 
been penetrated by our missionaries. 

Speaking generally, the work of Hull Circuit at this time was carried on and its 
successes gained in a country possessing few towns of any magnitude. Of necessity, it 
was mainly village evangelisation that was carried on, and the Journals of the 
missionaries show that in the East and North Ridings scores of villages were entered, 
converts won, and causes established in the short space of two or three years. Once 
more we may question whether we have not lost ground, and have not to-day fewer 
village interests than we had in the pioneer days. 

All important is it for us to know what was the religious condition of this district at 
the time of its first missioning, and what ameliorative influences were brought to bear 
upon the people by the new evangel. Even yet there are parts of the North Riding 
which are wild and thinly populated, as any one who has walked from Pickering to 
Whitbv will know. Eighty years ago the inhabitants of these moors and dales were 
indeed a people remote and secluded. Our missionaries penetrated into scattered 
villages that were sadly neglected. We are not without reliable evidence on this head. 
The late Canon Atkinson* tells us that, when he became parish clergyman of Danby in 
1846, the days were but lately passed when one clergyman had charge of three, and in 
one case he knew, of four parishes, making one service a Sunday and a modicum of 
visitation on week-days a thing to be desired rather than actually enjoyed. Yet, though 
what would be called pluralists, these clergymen were but poorly paid, their pittance 
barely reaching the proverbial forty pounds a year. Mr. Carter, the Vicar of Lastingham, 
got only 20 a year and a few surplice fees. True : he was an expert angler, and 
caught sufficient fish with his line and hook to serve his family, and to effect a change 
in kind with his neighbours. Still, he felt the pinch of poverty and, to add to his 
income, he hit upon the expedient of having refreshments served up between the 
services in the Saxon crypt. At the archidiaconal visitation he told his ecclesiastical 
superior that " he took down his fiddle to play a few tunes, and then he could see that 
no one got more drink than was good for him, and if the young people proposed 
a dance he seldom answered in the negative." f So the church, which was the earliest 
seat of Scoto-Irish Christianity, was turned into a public-house ! We know we are 

* " Forty years in a Moorland Parish." 
t " Slingsby and Slingsby Castle," by Eev. A. St. Clair Brooke. 


describing a state of things, as regards the Church, long since gone by. But our point 
is, that the poverty and helplessness of the State-Church in those remote parts must 
have created a condition of things needing a powerful remedy. If the official clergymen 
were not merely overworked and underpaid, incompetent or spiritless but, as was too 
often the case, lax in conduct, still more urgent was the need of heroic measures in order 
to reach the dull and alienated minds of the people. It was of a clergyman in Cleveland, 
lying intoxicated in the ditch, that one said to another, contemptuously: "Let him lig 
[lie] ; he'll not be wanted till Sunday." 

That Methodism kept Christianity alive in these northern dales Canon Atkinson 
handsomely concedes. He might probably hold that Methodism was only acting as the 
locum tenens until the Church should return to take up her assigned duty. But be this 
as it may, he admits the fact that, in the parts he knows so well, Methodism and 
Primitive Methodism had conserved the gospel. When, prior to his institution into his 
benefice, he saw what was to be his church, littered, ill-kept, with its shabby altar, 
he says : 

" I could understand the slovenly, perfunctory service once a Sunday, sometimes 
relieved by none at all, and the consequent sleepy state of Church-feeling and 
worship. I could well understand how the only religious life in the district should 
be among and due to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists."* 

Some of the first travelling-preachers on the Malton Branch sent pretty full Journals 
of their labours to the Magazine. From these we take an item or two that may help 
us to understand how and wherefore the Word of God spread so rapidly in these parts. 
One of these early workers and journalisers was William Evans. He was one of 
eight who were taken out to travel by the September Quarterly Meeting of 1820, 
and began his labours in the newly-formed Malton Branch. He was so zealous 
a missionary that he did not stint his labours to the fulfilling of his planned appoint- 
ments. Measured by the standard of the plan he performed works of supererogation. 
He records in his Journal : 

"Saturday, October 6th, 1820. Had no appointment, but being informed that 
the people at Hayton were desirous to hear us, I travelled fourteen miles 
and preached to them, and the Word did not fall to the ground : three were 
brought to the Lord, and one drunkard went off with the solemn inquiry, ' What 
must I do to be saved ? ' " 

With a spirit like this, so alien from all that was perfunctory, actuating the pioneer 
workers, one can the more readily understand why village societies on the Upper 
Derwent and in the Vale of Pickering should multiply as fast as the cells of the yeast 
plant, and that by May, 1821, N. West should be able to record that in six months four 
hundred members had been added to the Malton Branch. 

Another excerpt from the Journals gives us a picture of a camp meeting of the olden 
time a picture worth preserving, because, like the camp meetings held on the Wrekin, 
Scarth Nick, and Mow Cop itself, it was staged and framed amid grand and impressive 
scenery. God can work His " greatest wonders " in souls renewed and sins forgiven in 

* Op. dt., p. 48. 


a disused brick-field or on a bleak moor, but when the wonders of grace are wrought 
among the wonders of Nature both become the more impressive. So S. Smith felt 
when he wrote : 

"August 19th, 1821. Attended Pickering Camp Meeting. We opened at half- 
past nine. We sung and prayed ; and brother Hessey preached. The praying 
companies then drew out and took up five stations, and the scene was beautiful 
and interesting five large companies wrestling with God in a pleasant valley. 
On one side was an ancient castle, with its cloud-capt towers, the ruins of which 
were awfully grand. Another side presented a distant view of the town of 
Pickering. Another view gave the lofty quarries of limestone. On another side 
was a large plantation of lofty and majestic trees of different kinds. Through the 
valley ran a winding brook, calling to mind these lines : 

' Our time, like a stream, 
Glides swiftly away.' 

But at the important moment the sound of prayer and praise was heard through 
the valley, and five large companies pleaded with God for precious souls.' One 
soul got liberty in this time of prayer, and when the usual time had been spent, 
the companies were called up by the sound of a horn to the waggon. When we 
had gone through the services of the day we concluded the field-labours, and 
retired to hold a lovefeast in the chapel, where, after two or three had spoken, the 
work of the Lord broke out on every hand. Thirty or forty souls were crying for 
mercy ; others were praying with them. I never before was eye-witness to so 
glorious a work. Twenty-two souls professed to receive pardon of all their past 
sins, and a determination to flee from sin for the time to come. At the same time 
we had preaching on the outside to those who could not get in. Glory, glory to 
God and the Lamb for ever." 

The opening of the chapel referred to in the preceding extract had taken place four 
months before (April 22nd), and was of such a character as to show that the occasion 
was regarded as a notable event in the town and district. N. West, in his sanguine 
way, estimates the number brought together at five thousand. No less than seven 
preachers took part in the services held simultaneously within and outside the chapel. 
Jane Ansdale (afterwards Mrs. Suddards) had now begun her useful ministry, and to 
her was assigned the honour of preaching in the chapel both afternoon and evening. 

Other chapels built at an early date in this part were Swinton, 
opened August 13th, 1820; "John Oxtoby was with me," says 
S. Laister, the opener, "[and the Lord gave us many souls;" 
Malton, opened October 13th, 1822, by John Verity, then travelling 
on the adjoining Pocklington station; and Kirby-Moorside, the 
lowly building acquhed in 1824 serving until 1861, when it 
was superseded by a better one. But Leavening Chapel, opened 
by John Verity, October 8th, 1820, has more frequent mention 
in the early Journals and documents than any other, probably 
because of its association with the eccentric Robert Coultas, the 
R. COKDINGLET. correspondent and frequent travelling companion of John Oxtoby, 


and also because the pious clergyman of the neighbouring parish of Acklam occasionally 
worshipped within its walls. 

The best account we know of Robert Coultas is a brightly- written memoir from the 
pen of the veteran Rev. Richard .Cordingley, who travelled at Malton in 1826, and at 
Pickering in 1856. In that memoir worth disinterring from the Magazine and 
printing in extenxo Robert Coultas is rightly described as "an extraordinary man." 
He would never consent to stand higher than the first on the list of exhorters, but yet 
having ample means, he would go on extensive religious tours and evangelise in his own 
peculiar way much prayer interspersed with conversation-preaching. " When Robert 
had worked his body down, he used to return home, tarry awhile, and then commence 
again in some neighbourhood whither he thought Providence called him, with 
a companion or without, as the case might be. He laboured with great success in 
various villages and towns, still following his old habit of returning home to rest when 
exhausted with excessive toil." He was present at the Pickering Annual Camp 
Meeting of 1856, and though Mr. Cordingley had not seen him for thirty years, he 
knew him at once by his loud and unmistakable "Amen." He laboured in the prayer 
meeting after the lovefeast with all his heart and strength. " Souls, as usual, were 
converted ; for never," said he, " had we a camp meeting at Pickering without souls 
being converted." He quietly fell on sleep, June 13th, 1857, aged 86 years. 

As early as 1819, W. Clowes notes hearing "a truly gospel sermon by Mr. Simpson" 
in the church at Acklam. The same evening Clowes himself preached in a house, and 
he records with satisfaction, not untinged with surprise, that Mr. Simpson came to 
the service and gave him the right hand of fellowship. Sampson Turner, too, when 
preaching in Leavening Chapel, October 9th, 1822 "as compact a little chapel as ever 
I saw " had Mr. Simpson as a hearer, and notes in his Journal that " he is favourable to 
our people, and I believe a truly converted man." We meet, during the course especially 
of our earlier history, with so many clergymen of the type of the parson of Brantingham, 
who " advanced in a very menacing attitude " towards Clowes when the latter was 
preaching, and then " suddenly turned to the right-about and wheeled off the ground," 
that it is a relief at last to come upon one clergyman in the East Riding of quite 
another spirit.* Our first missionaries were menaced with the clenched fist of the 
parochial clergyman much oftener than they were offered the right hand of fellowship. 
All honour then to him of Acklam who, if well-accredited stories be true, went to such 
lengths of friendliness to our Church as got him into trouble with the ecclesiastical 
authorities. What would the archdeacon say when told that parson Simpson not only 
frequented conventicles and welcomed itinerant preachers to bed and board, but had 
actually caused a notice to be put up in the church-porch, which read : " No service. 
Gone to the camp meeting"? Of course he was censured and prohibited from 
attending any more conventicle services, and so we have the further picture of the 

*Rev. W. Garner speaks of Brantingham as "a place noted for rabid opposition to religious 
liberty." It was here Mr. Garner first met with vicar John Gibson's notorious pamphlet against the 
Primitive Methodists. To this he gave a trenchant answer in his "Dialogues between the Rev. J. 
Gibson, B.D., the Vicar of Brent, with Furneux Pelham, Herts, and Martin Bull, Primitive 


clergyman taking his stand, sometimes even amid frost and snow, by chapel door or 
window, to listen to the sermon.* 

As a circuit, Malton has had a continuous and steady-going existence since 1822. 
Until the formation of the Leeds District in 1845, it stood in right chronological order 
on the stations of the Hull District, just after Pocklington and 
Brotherton, i.e., Pontefract, Circuits. Though Pickering was made 
a circuit in 1823, the arrangement was premature, lasting for that 
year only, and it had to wait until 1842 before it was again granted 
circuit independence. The parent circuit was left with two 
preachers and 470 members, while Pickering began its course 
with 347 members and three preachers, of whom, it is interesting 
to note, John Fawsit was the third. 

It would be unpardonable were this history to contain no 
further reference to one who, as an ardent and gifted Bible-student 
and author, deserves to be ranked with J. A. Bastow and Thomas 
Greenfield. They are few indeed still surviving who remember 
his bright personality and his enthusiasm for learning; for he died in 1857 at 
the early age of thirty-seven, just when his literary powers were ripening. But 
though J. Fawsit died comparatively young, his application had been so intense that 
several books came from his pen that deserve to live. The best of these are "The 
Sinner's Handbook to the Cross " and " The Saint's Handbook to the Crown," the 
latter revised for the press on his death-bed. These books are written in a devout 
practical spirit, give evidence of wide reading, and in the allusiveness and occasional 
quaintnesses of their style remind us of some of the lighter Puritan writers. J. Fawsit 
was born at Scotter, and entered the ministry in 1841, the same year in which 
J. Bootland, J. R. Parkinson, D. Ingham, and J. T. Shepherd, well-known preachers of 
the old Hull District, began their toil. Alter travelling at Retford, Leeds, Malton, 
London, and Bradwell, he settled down at Wellow in the pleasant Dukeries, and did 
good service to the Connexion to which he was so attached. To no one whom we have 
known certainly to no Primitive Methodist would the title, "The Earnest Student," 
be more appropriate. He was not born to affluence. He had to labour for the support 
of his family, and, next after his religious duties, he made that his chief business, but 
books he would have. One of the most vivid impressions of our boyhood is the mental 
picture of his large library, with Sir Walter Raleigh's " History of the World " standing 
out among the rest (a title that struck our youthful mind as a tolerably large order). 

*The strange story of how John Verity won a chapel from the squire by his preaching seems too 
well authenticated to be summaril} r dismissed ; but it is not given in the text, for the simple reason 
that, when the above was written, no reliable evidence had been obtained as to the name and situation 
of the village in question. We, however, were inclined to locate the village in the neighbourhood of 
Malton, because the story is linked in time and locality with Verity's introduction to the clergyman, 
whom we took to be Mr. Simpson. Just before going to press, the Rev. "W. R. Widdowson informs 
us he has come across a note of the late Eev. S. Smith, which states that the village was Scagglethorpe, 
near Malton, and that the chapel thus strangely acquired continued to be used by us until the demise 
of the squire, when it passed out of our hands. The story is told at full length by the late Rev. Jesse 
Ashworth, Aldersgate Magazine, 1899. 


But J. Fawsit was no mere book-worm : he was a student. The writer of his memoir 
says truly : 

"His love of knowledge was a passion, and it never cooled. . . His application 
was most intense and protracted. At three o'clock in the morning, in the depth of 
winter, his lamp might have been seen burning ; indeed, till weakness compelled 
him to desist, he spent very few hours in bed. He was a self-taught man, and did 
honour to that class of individuals who undertake to educate themselves. He 
travelled much, and had acquired the habit, not only of reading as he walked, but 
of writing too ; the first draft of much that he published was first put on paper in 
this way." 

Earnest students of the type of John Fawsit are sparingly sown and rare in any 
community. But it so happened that the newly-formed Pickering Circuit could show 
two such uncommon growths. Besides its junior minister, it had for one of its leading 
officials John Luraley, whose life affords another striking example of self-help and 
strenuous mental culture. Robert Coultas and John Luniley were both products of the 
pleasant Vale of Pickering, and yet they differed as widely as any two sincere Christian 
men of the same community can possibly do. One lived largely in the world of books 
and thought, of which world the other knew little and for which he cared still less. 
While Fawsit would appreciate the good points of the extraordinary strolling evangelist, 
he would be drawn to the thoughtful druggist of Kirby-Moorside by force of strong 
affinity. He would find in him a kindred soul, and by congenial intercourse the already 
strongly-marked bias of each would be confirmed. Men like John Lumley, George 
Race, John Delafield, and others who might be named, are as genuine products of 
Primitive Methodism as John Oxtoby, Robert Coultas. or W. Hickingbotham. They 
always have been, and will be still more in the future, an indispensable element in its 
growth and strengthening. Hence they claim our recognition, and all the more, because 
their tastes and pursuits being " caviare to the general," their lives devoid of startling 
incident and their characters of eccentricity, they may so easily be passed over. 

John Lumley began his career at thirteen as a farm labourer, but gave himself with 
such ardour to the acquisition of knowledge, that he became a schoolmaster, and ultimately 
a druggist. Neither mathematics nor pharmacy, however, could wean him from Biblical 
study. He early laid a good foundation by reading the New Testament through once 
a month, and set himself to master the points at issue between Calvinism and 
Arminianism, as part of his equipment for that controversy, committing to memory the 
whole of the Epistle to the Romans. In 1838, he lost his official position in connection 
with the "Wesleyan Methodists owing to his refusal to pledge himself not to preach for 
other communities. In 1840, he joined the Primitive Methodists and became a local 
preacher, school superintendent, and class leader. John Lumley, like Matthew Denton 
and Thomas Church, must have an early place in the list of Primitive Methodist 
laymen who ventured into the field of authorship; for, in 1844, he published a work 
on "The Necessity, Nature, and Design of the Atonement," which received very 
favourable notice. In 1845, he removed for the second time to the United States, and 
died there in 1850. His interesting memoir was written by W. Thompson Lumley, 


who for the long period of sixty -three years was associated with the Pickering Circuit 
as one of its most prominent and capable officials, and died as recently as 1897. 

The family of Frank has had a long and honourable connection with the Pickering 
Circuit, dating back to 1833, when Ann, the fair daughter of the house, was converted, 
and, despite the bitter opposition of her parents and brothers, 
joined the Church. In the end her firmness and tact overcame 
all family opposition, and she had the joy of welcoming parents 
and most of her brothers into the same fellowship. Soon she was 
pressed to speak in public, but entered on the work with extreme 
diffidence. Her first effort, however, proved so remarkably success- 
ful in its spiritual results, that all scruples were set at rest, and 
for sixty long years her name stood on the plan as a local preacher. 
Her tall and slender form, her resonant voice bespeaking intense 
conviction, and her womanly tact rendered her ministrations very 
acceptable, and she preached far and wide in the villages round 
Pickering and Kirby-Moorside. For three or four years after 
beginning to preach she was accompanied by a young lady-friend, Alice Jane Garvin, 
who was gifted with an excellent voice and sang the gospel while the other preached 
it. The two sometimes went on foot, but at other times, we are told, each rode on 
a smart well-groomed donkey ; and the picture thus called up is not at all an unpleasing 
one When Ann Frank entered into the marriage state with Mr. Swales her chosen 
work suffered little interruption. In their home at Pickering cheerful hospitality was 
dispensed, and the godly pair had the satisfaction of seeing their only son enter the 
ranks of the ministry in which he has faithfully served upwards of thirty-six years.* 
Mrs. Swales died February 4th, 1895. 

Our sketch of the past history of Pickering Circuit would be incomplete were it to 
contain no reference to Messrs. J. Frank, J.P., of Pickering, and W. Allenby, of 
Helmsley. Both happily survive as veterans, with a record of more than half 
a century's faithful service, that has been of untold advantage 
to the district in which they reside. Mr. Frank is the Circuit 
Steward, and has been connected with the Pickering Sunday 
School for fifty years. Mr. Allenby is also a Sunday School 
Superintendent, and became a local preacher in the early fifties, 
along with his life-long friend, Rev. Joseph Sheale. 


Both Driffield and Bridlington are "in the Wolds." The two 
towns were missioned about the same time, and, as heads of 
branches or circuits, their relations with each other have been 

31 K, VV . A l.l,r. .N ) i i . 

close and intimate ; indeed, for some years Bridlington was a branch 

of Driffield Circuit. Hence, as geographically and historically the two go together, they 

may be fittingly considered under the common designation of "the Wold Circuits." 

* Their daughter, too, it may be noted, is married to the Rev. "W. A. Eyre. 



By the \Voltls we are to understand that well-defined upland tract, which, like a great 
crescent of chalk-hills, sweeps round from Flamborough Head to the Humber, and is 
bounded on the east by the low ground of Holderness, on the north by the Vale of 
Pickering, and on the west by the Vale of York. From time immemorial Driffield, 
planted at the foot of these oolitic uplands, has been the chief town the capital of the 
Wolds. With its clear sparkling trout-streams, its flour mills, its clean, pleasant streets, 
its air of prosperous comfort, it has yet had a long history. Driffield embalms the 
name of l)eira, a subdivision of the ancient kingdom of Northumbrian Alfred of 
Northumberland had his castle here, and the Moot Hill is still the name of the 
eminence on which the folk-mote assembled, and a tablet in Little Driffield Church 
commemorates Alfred's death in 705. Busy and thriving as Driffield is, it still clings 


to some of the old-world customs. Its parish clerk still rings the harvest-bell at five 
o'clock every morning for twenty-eight days during harvest ; for the Wold country is 
nothing if not agricultural, and Driffield is its emporium. 

This interesting district has, from a Primitive Methodist standpoint, been more 
fortunate than many other parts of the Connexion, in that its story has been well and 
fully told in a work easily accessible. We chiefly confine ourselves, therefore, to the 
first missioning of the Wolds and its chief circuit towns, Driffield and Bridlington, 
referring our readers to Rev. H. Woodcock's "Primitive Methodism on the Yorkshire 
Wolds " for fuller details. 

When and by whom was Primitive Methodism introduced into Driffield? Perhaps 
we may not be able to arrive at absolute certainty on these points; but there is 


a passage in the Journals of W. Clowes which may at least yield a strong probability. 
In the passage in question, Clowes reflects, for him, rather strongly, on the action of 
certain members of the Hull Circuit Committee, who interfered with the arrangements 
for placing the preachers, made September, 1819. Quite illegally, he maintains, and 
ill-advisedly, Samuel Laister was sent on a mission to the Yorkshire Wolds, which, says 
he, " turned out as I fully expected a complete failure." Be it said, Clowes rinds no 
fault with S. Laister. On the contrary, he affirms : " He was greatly in the doctrine of 
a present salvation, and had a burning love for the souls of men."* But he does find 
fault with the Committee-men for not suffering themselves to be guided by men of riper 
experience than themselves ; and he roundly tells them that they ought to have known 
better than to send an unseasoned missionary to an untried country like the Wolds, and 
in the winter time too. It is evident then that S. Laister did attempt the Wolds 
mission, and, if so, he would not be likely to miss Driffield ; and we his own 
statement that he was taken out by the Hull Circuit in 1819, and the first printed 
record of his labours we have relates to Malton Circuit in 1820. So far, then, as the 
records go, S. Laister may have attempted a Wolds mission in the Fall of 1819 ; nor, 
so far as we are aware, has tradition anything to say against it. S. Laister may have 
been "the aggressive preacher from Hull whose name is unrecorded,"! who took his 
stand on the Cross Hill and preached to the curious crowd ; and, though under the 
conditions prevailing at the time, S. Laister's mission may have been a comparative 
failure, just as Paiil's mission to Athens was, like that also, it may not have been 
altogether a failure. The probable conclusion arrived at, then, is that the nucleus of 
a society may have been formed as early as 1819. 

The first society, we are told, met on Sunday evenings at a bakehouse in Westgate, and 
had for its leader Thomas Wood, " the little shoemaker." Thus early we come across 
the name of the man who, until his death in 1881, was as the 
main-spring of Driffield Primitive Methodism. We have already 
noted his conversion in the Pocklington Circuit, and how he never 
rested until he got his companion and life-long friend, W. Sanderson, 
converted. In 1819, we find him removed to Driffield, and though 
but a young man of twenty-two, he begins to take upon him the 
care of the freshly-formed society. Though living in lodgings 
himself, he found the unmarried preacher bed and board ; but as 
this arrangement was not without its difficulties, he one day said 
to his betrothed : " We must get married soon and make a home 
for the preacher." Further illustrations of what Thomas Wood 
was as a man, and of what he did as an official for the Driffield 

Circuit during his service of sixty years, will be found in Mr. Woodcock's book. What 
strikes us in reference to the man is the aptness of the description applied to him 
" a man of double-distilled common-sense." And there was no element of bitterness 
in the distillation. He had the Yorkshireman's plod and pertinacity. He had too, the 

* Clowes' Journals, pp. 166-7. 
f" Corners of our Vineyard: Driffield Circuit," in Christian Messenger, p. 189. 

Deed-poll Member. 


Yorkshireman's cheery optimism. That he was no crier up of the past and crier down 
of the present, may be gathered from one or two of his acuta dicta, which also have 
their value as generalisations of our history by one who had long 
experience to go upon. 

"Modern Primitive Methodism, with its Schools, its Bands 
of Hope, and its Missionary Institutions, is a nobler thing than 
early Primitive Methodism, with its excitement and its songs. 

"Many of our early members were refugees from other 
Churches ; now we have a good society of our own creating. 

"Fifty years ago, when we laid hold of a talented man like 
'Willie' Sanderson, we were never puzzled to know what to 
do with him ; and when we could not get the man we wanted, 
we made the best use of those we could get. Some of the least 
promising turned out the most successful." * 

Another early ar.d valuable acquisition to the cause of Primitive Methodism in the 
Wolds was George Bullock, of Wetwang, a man of vigorous mind well-furnished by 
reading, skilful in debate, and sagacious in counsel. For sixty years he never missed 

an appointment except in case of sick- 
ness, and when in his prime he was one 
of the most popular and hard-working 
local preachers in the East Riding. His 
worth was fittingly recognised by his 
election as a member of the Deed Pol 
by the Conference of 1875. He ceased 
from labour in 1887 at the age of 83 

A reference to the record already 
given of the ministerial fixtures made 
September, 1820, by the Hull Quarterly 
Meeting, will show that at that date 
a footing had been got both in Driffield 
and in Bridlington. Then, in January, 
1821, Clowes visits Driffield, and on 
Thursday, the 18th, he notes in his 
Journal : " I preached at Driffield in the 
Play House, our Society having taken 
it for a preaching-place." The building 
here referred to was known as the Hunt 
Room, and was used for balls, concerts, 
and theatrical entertainments. 

In 1821, the erection of a chapel in 
Mill Street was begun. The undertak- 
ing was a weighty one for the society, and the pressure of monetary and other difficulties 


* " Primitive Methodism on the Yorkshire Wolds," p. 44. 



led some to predict the chapel would never get finished, while others feared if finished it 
would never be paid for. The extrication of the society from its embarrassments is 
traditionally attributed to the prayers and efforts of John Oxtoby, who was sent down 
by the Hull Circuit to render help at this juncture. One of the first fruits of his visit 
was the conversion of Mr. W. Byas, a wealthy retired farmer, for whom John Oxtoby 
had worked in former days. He was one of those who heard Oxtoby's first sermon 
preached in Driffield, and after it spent a restless [prayerful night. His state of mind 
being made known to Oxtoby and T. Wood, they visited Mr. Byas at his home, with 

the result] that he found 

peace. He gave a liberal 
donation towards the 
building fund, and ad- 
vanced the sum of 350 
on mortgage, which at 
his death was willed to 
the trustees, and the 
bequest placed them in an 
easy financial position.* 
The chapel, we are told, 
was originally only seven- 
teen feet from the floor 
to the ceiling, yet some 
years after, a gallery was 
put in four pews deep ; 
in 1856, the walls were 
raised considerably, the 
gallery enlarged, more 
lights inserted, and the 
accommodation increased 
by 130 lettable sittings.! 
The present noble chapel 
was built in 1876, under 
the superintendency of 
Kev. T. Waumsley, and 
the circuit owns also two 


good preachers' houses erected the same year. 

* " To the infant cause at Driffield, W. Byas, Esq., was a nursing father. He was brought to God 
by the simple but powerful instrumentality of John Oxtoby. After his conversion he often invited 
the preachers to his hospitable and plentiful table. Driffield was the first station to which we were 
appointed forty-five years ago [1823]. Mr. Byas gratuitously entertained us with board and lodgings ; 
and his kindness was seconded by his housekeeper, Mrs. Hall, and his servant Margaret Easingwood, 
now Mrs. Yokes. The chapel, too, which he liberally assisted to build, he placed in easy circum- 
stances before his demise." Rev. W. Garner, " Life of W. Clowes, 1868," p. 273. 

t The particulars here given, relative to the first chapel and its subsequent alterations, are found 
in an article by Eev. H. Knowles, Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1857, p. 11. 


From the very beginning, Driffield was rightly considered a strong branch. This 
being so, one may naturally wonder why it was not granted circuit independence until 
1837. Aspirations for self-government evidently were not wanting; for, in 1832, 
a meeting of circuit officials, consisting of Messrs. Bullock, Reed, Huntsman, Panton, 
Cobb, Sellers, and the three travelling-preachers, Messrs. Garbutt, Eckersley, and John 
Sharp, was held to consider the question. A resolution in favour of circuit independ- 
ence was arrived at, but the project did not then mature. The Hull Circuit authorities 
were against it, and the branch reluctantly, or otherwise, acquiesced. An explanation 
of this long retention of a strong branch in a subordinate position an explanation, 
which explains more than this particular case, is suggested by Rev. W. Garner's 
remarks to the effect that, under the influence of impaired health and increasing 
infirmities, "W. Clowes became somewhat timorous in chapel-building, and showed little or 
no readiness to convert branches or missions into independent stations. He adds, to 
quote his precise words : 

"Without the guiding and sustaining hand of Hull, he was afraid to let them 
try to stand and walk alone. Through this timorous policy, several branches, for 
' example Driffield, Brigg, Whitehaven, Barnard Castle were retained in connection 
with Hull long after they were qualified to support and govern themselves. By 
these stations large surpluses were often remitted to the parent branch, not indeed 
for its individual use, but to aid it in its general missionary operations. (' Life of 
Clowes,' p. 406)." 

But "the day of freedom dawned at length," and in 1837, Driffield was granted 
circuit autonomy. Its first bulky plan has on it the names of five travelling-preachers 
and some fifty distinct preaching-places. The next year its reported membership was 
816. Bridlington remained a branch of Driffield until Christmas, 1857, and Hornsea 
in Holderness until 1861. To-day Driffield is one of the widest, and numerically, the 
strongest country circuit in the Connexion, reporting to the Conference of 1903 
a membership of 1082 ; indeed, there is only one large-town circuit which is numerically 
stronger viz., Leicester Second, with 1100 members. Driffield has the area of 
a diocese rather than that of an average circuit. The situation of some of its places, 
and their distance from the circuit-town, involve some difficulty in working and 
considerable expense, yet it is not easy to see how the circuit can be divided. For 
a few years the experiment was tried of making NafTerton the head of a station, but the 
arrangement does not seem to have worked satisfactorily, and in 1880 there was 
a reversion to the old arrangement. 

Almost every one of the thirty-four places on the Driffield Circuit Plan has its story 
to tell, as Mr. Woodcock has shown in his interesting volume. Langtoft " the village 
of floods and water-spouts" has already been referred to as the scene of one of the 
earliest English camp meetings.* If the churchyard of Kilham holds all that is mortal 
of Capt. Edward Anderson, that of Beeford shows the tomb of probably the most 
popular boy-preacher of Primitive Methodism. Thomas Watson, a native of Beeford, 

* Ante, vol. i., pp. 66 and 68, where a view of Langtoft Church is given, as also the tombstone of 
Capt. Anderson. 



t par 'ed tV,isJHfflpev>i>er IS'" 
''n the !^year of HIS a* 

the 6 th of His mintstery 
f sljander aa,e,cieep piety 
extraordinary abiiHies 
Jtier HJS deatk a subject of deep 

was only nineteen years of age at his death in 1837, and yet he was a travelling- 
preacher six years. Contemporary documents show that he was in constant request for 
special services, and as his epitaph records : His slender age, deep piety, and extra- 
ordinary abilities, render his death a subject of deep and lasting regret. Beeford can 

also cite its instance of clerical animus, which 
took the form of a vexatious law-suit. When 
in 1873 the chapel was in course of erection, 
the late Canon Trevor entered an action against 
the trustees for an alleged encroachment on 
certain glebe-land which he held in trust. The 
reverend plaintiff valued the land in dispute at 
four shillings, while the defendants' solicitor 
stated its real value to be about fourpence 
The Canon lost two trials, and had to pay some 
two hundred pounds in costs. 

Driffield Circuit has been prolific in men and 
women of sterling character, whose worth finds 
due recognition in the pages of Mr. Woodcock's 
book, so often referred to. Besides Thomas 
Wood, Driffield has had such officials as 
Messrs. Thomas Jackson, Isaac Miller, and 
David Railton, the "man greatly beloved," 
who happily still survives. At Middleton- 
on-the- Wolds lived and died (August, 1850) 
Mr. F. Rudd, the father of Rev. F. Rudd, 
who for thirty-one years was a local preacher, 
second to none in the East Riding. At Hutton 
Cranswick, amongst many striking characters, 

Thomas Escritt, familiarly and affectionately known as " the Bishop of Cranswick," 
was the outstanding figure. As you saw him seated in the chapel, clad in his Sunday 
best, with his long snowy locks and venerable form, he looked like a country clergyman, 
though he was only a farm-labourer. But " he was the most beautiful specimen of a farm- 
labourer I ever met with or heard of," says Rev. J. Scruton, himself a native of the 
village. " He was a genius and a natural orator, though coy and shy. He was a man of 
the Bible, a man f eloquence, and a man of God." Thomas Escritt loved his employers, 
and was beloved in return, and his wish that he might be buried by the side of his old 
master was readily granted. For fifty years, as he went to his daily work, he was 
accustomed to turn aside to a particular spot to pray for grace and help to do* his duty; 
and in the evening, as he returned from work, standing on the same spot, to thank God 
for His vouchsafed presence during the day. In this way, through half a century, 
Thomas Escritt celebrated matins and vespers, until in the course of time the trodden 
grass showed a well-defined path. At this sacred try sting- place an annual camp meeting 
was held, called by the villagers "Thomas Escritt's Camp Meeting," as a token of 
respect for the saintly old man, who died January, 1885, aged 87 years. 


A man of quite another stamp was Robert Belt, blacksmith, of West Lutton, honest, 
sturdy, fearless. One Sunday morning, as he was going to his appointment, he observed 
Sir Tatton Sykes doing what he thought ought not to be done on the Lord's Day, and 
he went up to the baronet and told him so. The rebuke, though it was taken with 
ill-grace at the time, in the end procured for Robert Belt Sir Tatton's respect, and 
patronage as well And here, it should be said to the credit of Sir Tatton, one of the 
great land-owners and magnates of the Wolds, that, despite his training and associations, 
and in the teeth of the clerical pressure brought to bear upon him, he was not slow to 
recognise the value of Primitive Methodism. He gave land to erect three chapels 
Wansford, Wetwang, and Sledmere. The grant for the last-named was largely due to 
the pluck, persistence, and personal solicitation of Rev. C. Leafe, who, while he 
travelled the Driffield Circuit, also achieved the task of building chapels at Beswick 
and Watton. Sir Tatton Sykes is credited with having expressed the following judgment 
concerning the influence of Methodism in the Wolds. Though Methodism has no need 
to seek for testimonials to the value of its work, it cannot but be agreeable to have the 
findings of its annalists and historians confirmed by an outsider, who is at the same 
time a resident hereditary landlord of the district. 

"If it had not been for the Dissenters the English people would have been 
heathens ; and they are worthy of a site on which to build a chapel in every village 
in the land. Most of the religion between Malton and Driffield is to be found amongst 
the Methodists." 

The most pertinent facts belonging to the introduction of Primitive Methodism into 
Bridlington can soon be given. John Coulson has the honour of being the Connexion's 
pioneer labourer in Bridlington and its vicinity. His name stands in connection with 
Bridlington on the plan of ministerial fixtures made September, 1820. Tradition tells 
that he walked over from Driffield one Saturday afternoon so as to be in time for the 
close of the Bridlington Market, and that his first service was interrupted by the 
constable. It gives also reminiscences of his visits to Flamborough and Filey. Before 
the close of the year W. Clowes made his way from Preston-in-Holderness to Bridlington, 
in order to survey the land and have a consultation with Mr. Coulson as to the prospects 
of the mission already begun. He speaks of finding already thirty members at Brid- 
lington, and of assisting Mr. Coulson to draw up a plan for the working of the mission. 
The next quarterly meeting of the Hull Circuit appointed Clowes to reinforce and still 
further extend this east-coast mission ; and his Journals show that from January to 
March, and again in July, 1821, he was engaged in the work of opening up the coast 
and its hinterland from Bridlington to Sandsend beyond Whitby. Remember, it was 
winter-time, and that the cutting north-easters on that high and rock-bound coast search 
to the very marrow, yet Clowes and his helpers preached at Bridlington on the Quay, 
on Scarborough Sands and in the Castle-Dykes, in Whitby Market-place, and on the 
beach at Robin Hood's Bay, as well as in barns as at Ayton and Seamer, in school-rooms 
and houses. The mission was strengthened by the drafting in of other labours, and the 
result of their joint toil laid the foundation of what are now the Bridlington, Filey, 
Scarborough, and Whitby Circuits. Clowes, as we know, was a man who habitually 
expected great things from God, yet he says: "When I look at the work in Yorkshire 



it is amazing to me." Our amazement is called forth by the sight of the labour 
performed no less than by its results. 

Owing to its position Bridlington quite naturally had many of the characteristics of 
a Wold circuit. These characteristics it still retains, with others due to its proximity 
to the sea. In Bridlington old town and its offshoot, Bridlington Quay, these features 
may be seen in contrast almost side by side. If Bridlington, with its fine old Priory 
Church, reminds us of Driffield, only that it is a little more quiet and sleepy, the 
Quay, only a mile away, would rather suggest Scarborough or Whitby. This, in 1820, 
was an old-fashioned sea-port, and not unknown even in those pre-railway days as 
a modest watering-place. At the Quay the scene was often animated enough ; for 


sometimes the noble bay bounded on the north by the lighthouse on Flamborough Head 
which Clowes visited would be crowded with vessels lying becalmed, or seeking shelter 
from rough or contrary winds. The residents of the Quay were of the amphibious kind 
one might expect to find in such a place a few fishermen, shipowners, or those 
concerned in the unloading, refitting, or victualling of ships, with a few visitors and 
retired persons whose tastes brought them to the sea. Primitive Methodism early got 
a footing both in Bridlington and the Quay. Here lived Mr. Stephenson, an early 
bcfriender of the cause, whose vessel John Oxtoby, when standing on the pier, singled 
out from a number of others, though his eye had never rested either on the vessel or its 
picture before. It had been feared the vessel was lost, but Oxtoby had prayed about it, 

G 2 


and it had been revealed to him that the ship he now identified would come safe to 
port. The first unpretentious chapel at the Quay was built in 1823. In the bight of 
Bridlington Bay the sea has made sad encroachment on the land, and in course of time 
the first chapel stood so near the cliff that when the north-easters blew it shook again, 
and was wet with the flying spume and spray. Not before time a second chapel was 
built on another site in 1870, still further enlarged in 1879.* In the old town 
a building was acquired and fitted up as a chapel capable of accommodating two 
hundred hearers. This was opened by W. Clowes and Atkinson Smith in 1836. 

With the conspicuous exception of Flamborough, soon to be referred to, the landward 
villages of Bridlington, like the rest of the Wold villages, are agricultural, inhabited 
chiefly by farmers and labourers, and the small tradesmen and craftsmen who minister 
to their simple wants. Amongst these Primitive Methodism made its way. Some of 
its converts were men of strong individuality, and rendered long and effective service 
men like Jonathan Goforth, of North Burton, local preacher, natural philosopher, 
antiquarian, and intermeddler in all sorts of out-of-the-way knowledge. Jonathan 
Goforth was of the same craft as Thomas Wood, of Driffield. Writing in 1821, William 
Cobbett says that shoemaking is "a trade which numbers more men of sense and of 
public spirit than any other in the kingdom."f The fact, vouched for by Rev. H. 
Woodcock, that at one time there stood on the two plans of Driffield and Bridlington 
Circuits the names of no fewer than twenty-one persons who followed this trade, speaks 
well for the degree to which Primitive Methodism had got hold of " the men of sense 
and public spirit" in the Wold country. Bridlington Circuit too, like Driffield, has 
had its peasant stalwarts ; such as Mark Normandale, of Thornholme, whose sturdy 
attachment to Methodism was a thorn in the side of Archdeacon Wilberforce. Happily, 
Lady St. Quintin had more tolerance than her clergyman, and declined to bring 
pressure to bear upon her employe. Bridlington Circuit has given to the ranks of the 
ministry G. Normandale, H. Woodcock, the well-known writer and historian of Wold 
Primitive Methodism, W. K. Monkman, W. Hall, W. Sawyer, W. Mainprize, and 
T. R Holtby. 

Quite early Bridlington had close relations both with Driffield and Scarborough, but 
in the end its natural connection with the Wolds prevailed, and Flamborough, Avhere 
the horn of the crescent of the Wolds projects into the sea, became the limit of the 
circuit. But in 1827, we find the "Bridlington and Scarborough Union Branch of 
Hull Circuit " " Bridlington to have the priority." In 1833, Bridlington and Driffield 
are together a branch of Hull. In 1843, it becomes a branch of Driffield, and in 1859 
an independent circuit. 

We have no intention of writing the history of Flamborough or Filey Primitive 

"The entire street in which my mother was born, and in which she passed her early years 
[at Bridlington], has long since been swallowed up by the ever-encroaching sea." T. Mozley's 
" Reminiscences," vol. i., p. 148. 

tCobbett's " Rural Rides," vol. i., p. 55. 



Methodism. That has already largely been done.* What concerns us here is, the 
significance of that history as an episode in the larger history of our Church's advance 
and mission. The capital fact demanding notice is that Hull's Bridlington Mission for 
the first time brought the agents of our Church into direct, close, and permanent contact 
with a distinct class the fishermen who ply their hazardous calling around our coasts. 
With what result ? We have seen what the new evangelism did for the folk of the 
Yorkshire Dales and Moors ; did it succeed in moralising and sweetening the lives of 
the fisher-folk dwelling on the cliffs and in the coves " between the heather and the 
northern sea " ? It made a determined attempt to reach them. Did the attempt 
succeed ? Let us see. 


Flamborough, on its bold head-land crowned with the well-known lighthouse, with 
its cliffs and caves and sea-birds, and the famous entrenchment of the Danes' Dyke 
running from the North Sea to Bridlington Bay, and cutting off the huge cantle of 
land on which the village stands, is one of the most interesting spots in England, and 
its hardy inhabitants, chiefly fishermen, are equally interesting, possessing as they do 
many distinctive traits. A thousand years ago or so the predatory Danes took possession 
of this natural stronghold, which, perhaps, the Britons had dug out a thousand years 

* See especially " Our Filey Fishermen," by Rev. G. Shaw, 1867. 
by Rev. C. Kendall, 1870. " Life of John Oxtoby." 

God's Hand in the Storm," 


before. This stronghold the new-comers fortified and continued to hold. They inter- 
married, and lived so much a people apart, that their home got the name of " Little 
Denmark." To this day, it is said, the Flamborians give evidence of their Scandinavian 
origin in build and gait and complexion, as also perhaps in the deep religiousness of 
their nature, which, largely if not wholly, purged from the superstition of the past, made 
them take so kindly to Methodism, that this coigne of Yorkshire has now become 
one of its strongholds. From the very first, Primitive Methodism found ready 
acceptance in Flamborough. W. Clowes was frequently here, and as early as January 
14th, 1821, he notes in his Journal : 

" I preached again at Flamborough at two and six. It was a very gracious day : 
two souls got liberty. Fifty in society, and I joined five more. Monday, 15th, 
brother Coulson preached, and I gave an exhortation. One soul got liberty." 

The Flamborians are now largely a sober, chapel-going and God-fearing people. 
What they were at the beginning of the nineteenth century was something very 
different, corresponding rather to the couplet : 

" A wretched church, and a wooden steeple, 
A drunken parson, and a wicked people." 

Very suggestive in this regard is the statement, made on good authority, that it was not 
with the goodwill of many of the people of these parts that the noble lighthouse was 
erected. One of the first converts of Primitive Methodism in Flamborough was 
Leonard Mainprize. Considering what the family, of which he was the head, has done 
and is doing for the interests of our Church in Bridlington Circuit, the winning of 
such a man must be reckoned a good day's work. One of Leonard's sons was 
Vicannan Mainprize, for many years a typical working fisherman, who in following his 
calling had many hairbreadth escapes. Comparatively late in life he became a rich man 
through the coming to him of a legacy. The change in his circumstances made no 
difference to the simplicity of his Christian character, though it greatly augmented his 
power for doing good, and the Bridlington Circuit reaped the benefit of his beneficence. 
Midway between Scarborough and Whitby stands Filey, fronting its noble bay. Now 
it is widely known as a beautiful health-resort, but at the time of 
which we write, it was little more than a fishing-village. One who 
was there in 1823, speaks of its "one short row of small cottages, 
like a coast-guard station, built for visitors who did not come." 
Hard as it is for us to realise it now, Filey was then "noted for 
vice and wickedness of every description." So says Mr. Petty 
in his History, and all the evidence goes to prove the truth of 
the indictment. The Sabbath was disregarded ; if anything, the 
Sabbath was the busiest day of all the week. There was plenty of 

superstition, the dark survival of Pagan times, but of real religion 

MK. v. MAINPRIZE. there was ^ tt ^ e en ough. Methodism was struggling for existence, 

and the influence of the Church was almost a negative quantity. 

True, there was an ancient fabric St. Oswald's which stood on the other side of 

the ravine that divides the North and East Ridings, but according to the testimony of 



the visitor already mentioned, it was " a dreary and not quite weatherproof building." 
Both the situation and condition of the parish church were emblematic of the aloofness 
of the people from the religion it stood for. So far from exerting any practical influence 
on the lives of the bulk of the fishermen, it might as well have been in another world 
as in another Riding. " Like priest, like people," says the adage, and what both priest 
and people were like may be judged by an incident which took place at the bedside of 
a dying parishioner, who had asked that he might receive the last sacrament : 

" Parson (loquitur) : ' Do you swear ? ' Sick man : ' No.' ' Do you ever get 
drunk ? ' ' No.' After other questions of a similar kind, the parson asked : ' Do 
you owe any debts?' 'No.' 'Well, then, you are all right. But you owe me my 


From a photo by Walter Fisher and Sons, Filey. 

fee for your father's gravestone, and I cannot give you the sacrament until you 
have paid me.' The dying man settled with the clergyman, received absolution, 
and died satisfied." * 

There is pathos about the life of the fisherman an undertone of sadness like the 
moaning of the harbour-bar Charles Kingsley speaks of : 

" For men must work, and women must weep ; 
And there's little to earn, and many to keep, 
Though the harbour-bar be moaning." 

*" Filey and its Fishermen," Thomas P. Mozley, who was at Filey in 1823 and 1825, and in the 
latter year attended " The Fishermen's Chapel," i.e., the Primitive Methodist Chapel, refers to this 
clergyman,'," Reminiscences," vol. i., p. 444. 


That pathetic undertone was distinctly to be heard in Filey and many another 
fishing-village eighty years ago. You could catch the sound of it beneath and despite 
the rude sports, the loud ribald song, the boisterous merriment. There were the daily 
toil, the hazard of storm and disaster, the anxiety of women waiting and watching at 
home. The stones in the old churchyard bore the silent record of many such lowly 
domestic tragedies. There is a passage in one of Mary Linsk ell's books as true of Filey 
and Flamborough as of more northern Robin Hood's Bay or Staithes : 

"The two women with whom Genevieve had come down from Thurkeld Abbas 
were the daughters of a drowned man, the widows of drowned men, the sisters of 
drowned men. All they possessed the means of life itself had come to them 
from the sea ; the self-same sea had taken from them all that made life worth 

Such was Filey, and such, thank God ! it soon ceased to be. It needed vital religion 
to moralise the people. The men needed it to give them strength to cope with the 
storm and the imminent danger. The women bread-winners, too needed it to help 
them to bear the strain of anxiety, and to comfort them in the time of their desolation. 
And vital religion came. How and with what results we must briefly tell. 

Filey was not so easily won as Flamborough and other places along the coast. It 
was tried again and again, but the stolid indifference of the people seemed impenetrable. 
But for John Oxtoby, Filey might have been left to its fate. The tradition is, that 
when the question of continuance or discontinuance was under serious discussion at the 
Bridlington Quarterly Meeting, held at the house of Mr. Stephenson, Oxtoby, who had 
kept silent hitherto, was appealed to, and unhesitatingly gave his judgment in favour of 
prosecuting the mission. Abandon Filey ? It was not to be thought of for a moment. 
God had a great work to do in Filey ; and Oxtoby declared himself ready to engage in 
that work, whatever privations it might involve. This ended the discussion, and it was 
resolved to give Filey one more trial. Oxtoby had got as far as Muston Hill, on his 
way to attempt what many regarded as a forlorn hope, when the sight of Filey in the 
distance drove him to his knees. His audible petitions were not only intensely earnest, 
but so familiar as almost to suggest irreverence, did we not know the man and the 
essential reverence as well as intimacy of his intercourse with God. He John Oxtoby 
had given a pledge that " God was going to revive His work at Filey," and He must do 
it, or His servant would not be able to hold up his head. He put God on His honour ; 
He would not allow His servant to be discredited: "That be far from Thee, Lord." 
He received the assurance that God would verily keep His word, and rose from his 
knees, saying: "Filey is taken ! Filey is taken !" To the foresight of faith, the work 
not yet begun was already accomplished. Oxtoby, on Muston Hill, pleading for Filey, 
recalls William Braithwaite's wrestling for souls at East Stockwith,f and both incidents 
have their counterpart in John Eide's and Thomas Russell's victorious conflict on 
Ashdown for the salvation of Berkshire. They make companion pictures. " Give me 
souls, or I shall die ; " " Filey is taken ! " " Yonder country 's ours ! " are only short 

* " Between the Heather and the Northern Sea," p. 77. 
t Ante, vol. L, pp. 369 and 419. 



sentences, and easily rememberable ; but they are, in their way, as significant for 
Primitive Methodist history as some of the sayings of great captains, like Nelson, are 
significant for English history. 

Filey was taken. The remarkable revival of 1823 was morally revolutionary and 
lasting in its results. It laid the foundations of a strong cause in Filey, and before the 
year ended a chapel was built, which, after two enlargements, was in 1871 superseded by 

a handsome and commodious 
edifice. The Wesleyan Society 
shared in the labours and success 
of the revival, and was much 
quickened and largely aug- 
mented, and even the parish 
church began to look up and 
to be better attended. The 
morals of the village rapidly 
improved. Keligion wrought 
for sobriety, thrift, softening 
of manners, social peace, and 
domestic concord. It was Filey 
fishermen who led the way in 
abandoning Sunday fishing. At 
first the innovators were a small 
minority, and met with the 
usual difficulties experienced by 
reformers. Even if they had 
been losers by their Sabbath 
observance, the obligation to 
keep the Sabbath would have 
been the same ; but, as a matter 
of fact, they were not losers, 
but caught more lasts of herrings 
in six days than others did in 
seven ; until even the small 
fisher-lads would observe : " If there were twea (two) herrings in the sea Kanter Jack 
would be seaar to git yan (one) on them." The good example, honoured by Providence, 
was infectious. Gradually other skippers and owners fell into line with the reformers, 
until Sabbath observance became the rule. In short, compared with what it had been, 
Filey became a model fishing-town, so that in 1863 the Rev. Edwin Day, Wesleyan 
minister, could declare : " He hail considerable knowledge of the fishermen on many 
parts of our coast, but he knew none equal to the Filey fishermen, and he declared, 
with the greatest freedom, that their superiority was entirely owing to the successful 
labours of the Primitive Methodist Connexion." 

All the credit if any credit at all belongs to the human agents must not be given 
to J. Oxtoby for the remarkable revival of 1823. Not forgetting the pioneer labours of 



J. Coulson, we find that J. Peart, B. Morris, W. Howcroft, and W. Garner, all took 
part in it, and it was under a sermon, preached by J. Peart, that the revival may be 
said to have begun. But even if we could have wished it otherwise, the rustic 
evangelist, whose prayers and homely exhortations were couched in the broad East- 
Riding dialect, is the chief outstanding figure. Tradition persists in associating Oxtoby's 
name with the revival as its main instrument ; and those who have closely studied the 
history of Filey Primitive Methodism, and are best acquainted with the spirit and 
prominent features of its Church-life, are the readiest to admit that, in this instance, 
tradition has not erred ; that Oxtoby's influence was not only great and formative at the 
time, but also procreative of its like, shaping the lives of those who were to become, in 
their turn, the shapers and directors of the society and circuit. We may here, with 
advantage, adduce the testimony of the Rev. R. Harrison : 

"Primitive Methodism is very much what it is in Filey through the prayers and 
faith of 'Praying Johnny.' Those who have thought much respecting the history, 
methods, and spirit of our Church in Filey, see to what extent he has been, and is 
reflected and reproduced. It has always been marked by Christian simplicity, 
strong faith, and direct, earnest prayer. It would be under rather than over the 
mark to say that as many souls have been saved in the class meetings as after the 
preaching services. There has always been a strange social element in the Church- 
life of Filey, and a marked domesticity in its devotions." 

Foremost among the converts of Oxtoby, who became the originators and shapers of 
the society, may be named Mrs. Gordon, John Wyville, and William Jenkinson. The 
first-named was the wife of a coastguard officer, a woman of education, who had travelled 
and seen the world, and was ready to be led into the light and repose of faith by 
Oxtoby. Mrs. Gordon was one of the most remarkable and useful women Primitive 
Methodism has produced, nor must the fame she afterwards acquired as " the Queen of 
Missionary Collectors," and the work she did in London, be allowed to obscure her 
claim to have been one of the nursing mothers of our cause in Filey. She, in her turn, 
was instrumental in the conversion of Ann Cowling, afterwards Mrs. Jenkinson, who 
became second only to herself as a missionary collector, and, as such, excited the 
wonder of W. Clowes as to how she contrived to raise so much money, until he learned 
that there was an agreement between the fishermen and herself that they should give 
her for the missionary cause a certain percentage on all the fish they caught above 
a certain quantity, on condition that she prayed for them while they were fishing. 

John Wyville, who survived until 1866, was another of the "old standards" of 
Filey. He never forgot John Oxtoby's placing his hand on his shoulder and saying : 
" Thou must get converted, for the Lord has a great work for thee to do." The saying 
was prophetic and fulfilled to the letter. He soon after joined the society, attended to 
reading and the cultivation of his mind, and became a laborious and efficient local 
preacher. William Jenkinson (obit. 1866) was yet a third convert of Oxtoby's, who 
lived to see one hundred of his relatives members of society. 

The godly succession has been kept up by such men as the brothers Jenkinson and 
Matthew Haxby, whose portraits appropriately have a place in our pages. Their 
evangelistic labours as " the Filey Fishermen " have made them widely known, but how 


much good they have exerted by their example and leadership and personal influence 
cannot be told here. Jenkinson Haxby happily still survives, and was honoured in 
1902 by being made a permanent member of Conference. 

In closing our observations on the Flamborough and Filey 
fishermen, we are again reminded of the toils, anxieties, and 
hazards of the fisherman's life. We still hear the sad undertone, 
as of the moaning of the harbour-bar. The biographies in our 
Magazines, through a succession of years, show how many of our 
adherents have been engulphed by the sea from which they 
sought their livelihood. It is pleasing to know that religion, 
as presented by our Church, makes the fisherman none the less 
hardy, brave, self-sacrificing. In the terrible storm of October, 
1869, Richard Haxby, sen., said to his crew : " Now, some of you 
x HAXBT. naye a wife and youn g children dependent upon you ; I have 
a wife that I well prize, but no young children, therefore, you should seek every 
precaution to shun risk and escape death. Besides, you are not ready for another 
world ; Frank and I are insured for eternal life ; therefore, lash us to the tiller, and you 
(jo belon- ir/ii-re there is less danger."* This is no solitary instance. In that same 
storm Matthew Haxby, referred to above, caused himself to be lashed to the tiller, and 
steered the vessel during most of the seventy hours, for said he : " If a wave comes and 
washes me overboard, I am all right. I shall go straight to heaven, where there is no 
more sea." 

Religion, in the form of Primitive Methodism, suits the fisherman well, and the 
fisherman at his best has done Primitive Methodism infinite credit. That, we trust, is 
what this History shows ; for after all, while for obvious reasons we have spoken much 
of Filey, it is taken as a type and object-lesson. While writing of Filey and Flam- 
borough, we have found our thoughts turning to Scarborough and Staithes, to 
Cullercoats, and to fishing-towns and villages in East Anglia and Cornwall, and 
elsewhere, where our Church has done a similar work, in kind 
if not in degree, amongst the fishermen as it has achieved at 
Flamborough and Filey. 


"On Saturday, January 27th, 1821, by an unexpected provi- 
dence, my way was opened to preach at Scarborough." So stands 
the record in the Magazine. How providence opened Clowes' 
way we are not distinctly told. Possibly he may have had an 
invitation to visit the town, backed by the offer of the use of 
Mr. Lamb's schoolroom. Be this as it may, on the date mentioned, MR. MATTHEW HAXBT. 
Clowes, accompanied by his friend Coulson, walked to Scarborough, By permission of w. Fisher 
and found on his arrival a few persons whose minds, stirred by 

a ripple of excitement, were already in a state of expectancy. Some one had dreamed 
the night before that he saw two "Ranters' preachers" going up the streets of Scar- 

* "God's Hand in the Storm," p. 30. 



borough with an intention to preach the gospel. The dream would naturally help on 
its own fulfilment, and Mr. Clowes preached in the schoolroom and Mr. Coulson 
elsewhere. Three full Sundays out of the six yet available for this mission were, 
devoted by Clowes to Scarborough, and two to Whitby, while the remaining Sunday 
was divided between Scarborough and Seamer. At Scarborough, his practice was to 
preach twice in the schoolroom and once on the sands, and he notes with satisfaction 
that the people who came to the seaside services in such multitudes, behaved with 
decorum and listened attentively to the Word. The first society class in Scarborough 
was formed by Clowes on February llth, and before he returned to Hull, by way of 

Flamborough and Bridlington, in order to attend 
the March Quarterly Meeting, the nine members 
had been increased by later converts. 

From Scarborough Clowes pushed 011 for 
Whitby, but as he passed through Robin 
Hood's Bay, the fishermen "got wit" that 
a "Ranter preacher" was amongst them, and 
Clowes was fain to preach in three houses 
opening into one another. This plural place 
of assembly was packed with people. When, 
soon after, Clowes paid a return visit to Robin 
Hood's Bay, and held a service by preference 
on the beach, he was assisted by J. Branfoot, 
and had as one of his hearers William Harland, 
the young schoolmaster of Staintou Dale, who 
then and there resolved to lead a Christian 
life. At Whitby, Clowes followed the same 
method of procedure as at Scarborough. Both 
on the llth and 18th of February, one of the 
services of the day was held in the market-place. 
At the first some unruly spirits were present 
disposed for mischief, but " a man of weight, 
for duty done and public worth," was on the 
ground in the person of the Chief Constable, 
and his presence exerted a restraining influence. 
The man of authority had met with Clowes 
when conveying prisoners to York, and had listened to his preaching in the open- 
air. He had then assured Clowes of a hospitable reception, should he ever find his 
way to Whitby. To his honour, be it said, the Chief Constable made good his word. 
Fryup in the Dale, Lyth, Sandsend, besides Ayton and Seamer, were also visited 
by Clowes during his mission. 

The mention of Rev. W. Harland's name above, may remind us that in the persons of 
John and Thomas Nelson who are said to have come from a village near Whitby, of 
Henry Hebbron and of William Harland, the North Riding of Yorkshire gave Primitive 
Methodism four men who, in their day, were extraordinarily useful and popular. Had 





the Huttou Ruclby and East Coast Missions together done nothing more than send forth 
these early workers, it would have yielded an abundant return for the toil and self- 
sacrifice involved in prosecuting the missions ; since in the formative period of the 
Connexion just when it was ready to take the shaping and impress of strongly marked 
personalities, these men gave their zeal and strength, their wit and 
humour and popular gifts to the work. 

Mr. Hebbron and the Nelson brothers we shall meet again in the 
Sunderland District; but a further word may be permitted in 
reference to William Harland who, with William Garner, William 
Sanderson, and George Lamb, lived to be reckoned one of Hull 
District's " grand old men." William Harland was a native of 
Newton near Pickering, and was born in 1801. He was educated 
for a schoolmaster, and hence, from a scholastic point of view, was 
privileged beyond most of his brethren. Those who came in 
contact with him were impressed with his amiability no less than 
with his intelligence. On a subsequent visit to these parts, 
Mr. Clowes had some conversation with the young schoolmaster, who set him on his 
way to Cloughton after preaching at Stainton-Dale, and found him to be " a young man 
of considerable information and kindness of disposition, and capable of doing much 
good in his day and generation." Yet Mr. Harland did not for some time identify him- 
self with the new movement, though he lent his schoolroom for preaching services and 
duly attended them. At last, however, he made up his mind. Mr. W. Howcroft had 
given an invitation to all who desired to become members to remain after the service 
and he would give them a ticket on trial ; whereupon Mr. Harland stepped up to his 
own desk and asked if the preacher would give him a ticket on trial. " No ; I won't" ; 
said Mr. Howcroft, " but I will give you one as an approved 
member." Mr. Harland preached his first sermon at the opening 
of Newton chapel, which was a converted cart-shed, and he lived 
to preach the opening services of the chapel subsequently erected 
in 1850. At the Hull Quarterly Meeting, September 1838, Bro. 
J. Harrison was appointed " to consult him respecting his willing- 
ness to enter our ministry." Mr. Harland ivas willing, and for 
forty-three years he rendered good service on the platform, 
where he was at his best, and in the pulpit. He was elected 
President of the Conference of 1862, and filled the editorial 
chair from 1850 to 1862. He was made a deed-poll member in 
1870, and retained that office till 1879, when growing physical 
infirmities compelled him to resign. Mr. Harland died October 
10th, 1880. 

No agent better suited for carrying forward the work already begun could have been 
found than N. West, who was now borrowed from Malton for a month. He made his 
way to Whitby, where, on the 25th March, he preached twice in the market-place and 
once in a house, and next day formed the new converts, numbering fifty- five, into three 
classes. At Robin Hood's Bay there were, he notes, already twenty-eight in society. 



Two Sundays N. West laboured at Scarborough. On April 1st, he "stood up" at the 
Castle Dykes and preached to a large congregation, made up of all sorts of people 
"quality, poor, soldiers, sailors," &c. "At half-past five," says he, "I stood up in the 
name of the Lord again ; but was much disturbed by Satan, who opposed very much by 
his slavish vassals ; however, through God we got through, and at night held a prayer 
meeting. After all, we were more than conquerors through Jesus, for fifteen fresh 
members joined." On the following Sunday he preached twice on the sands. In the 
morning, many were observed to weep who had despised religion before, and at the 
afternoon service there were supposed to have been no less than three thousand present 
who " paid great attention." 

Nathaniel West went back to Malton, and R. Abey came on the ground. In his 
Journal he notes the opening of the first chapel in Scarborough, May 13th, 1821. 
This home-made structure was designed and built by brother Luccock. and stood on the 
site of an ancient Franciscan Convent in St. Sepulchre Street. A Sabbath school 
being urgently needed, the western wing of the building was appropriated to the 
purpose. To save expense, the work was done by amateurs. George Tyas laid the 
bricks for the partition wall, and James and William Wyrill fixed the doors and 
window-frames. These two brothers became the first superintendents of the school, 
and James Linn became its first scholar. A melancholy interest attaches to the name 
of James Wyrill. In the terrible storm of February 24th, 1844, the yawl he com- 
manded was struck by a heavy sea when making for the harbour, and went down with 
all hands in sight of the multitude lining the pier and foreshore. James Wy rill's body 
was recovered after being in the sea one hundred and twenty-nine days. This sad 
incident is recalled to show, that ever since Clowes and Nathaniel West numbered 
fishermen among their auditors, our Church in Scarborough has succeeded in attaching 
some of those who live by the fishing industry of the town to its fellowship, and has 
found among them some of its most earnest workers. In this connection the names of 
Sellars and Appleby should not be omitted. 

R. Abey, who opened the first chapel, tells us that during his eleven weeks' term of 
service on the Scarborough Mission he saw one hundred and ten added to the societies. 
Then, according to the arrangement made at the first Conference, he and Thomas 
Sugden were to be transferred to the Tunstall District, while S. Turner and J. Garner 
were to be drafted to fill their place in the Hull District. When Abey took his 
departure, a number of the Scarborough friends accompanied him a couple of miles on 
his way, and then by prayer commended him to the grace of God. R. Abey, having 
travelled eight years with acceptance, settled down on a small farm at Snainton, and 
continued a useful local preacher. Bridlington and Scarborough (with Whitby) were 
now in June, 1821, made the heads of distinct branches, and John Garner was 
appointed to the former and S. Turner to the latter, the two young men walking from 
Hull to take up their respective charges. By September it was reported that the work 
was going steadily on in the Bridlington Branch, and that it had three preachers and 
390 members. Scarborough, too, must have made some progress, since in 1823, it was 
made a separate circuit. Such, however, it remained only for one year. When, in 
1824, Whitby was taken from it to form a new circuit, the membership of Scarborough 



Circuit was reduced to 160, and it became once more a branch of Hull, and as such it 
remained, either conjointly with Bridlington or separately, until finally, in 1852, it 
became a circuit with 654 members. Apart from Scarborough's claim to be the queen 
of watering-places, there are other considerations, which make all that relates to the 
beginning and development of our Church in the ancient borough of some interest to 
Primitive Methodists. To name but two of such considerations : Scarborough is, next 
to Hull, the largest town in the Hull District, and it is a recognised popular Conference 
town : sure sign that the denomination has, like Grimsby with which it has many 
points of affinity attained to considerable strength and influence. The history of 
Scarborough Primitive Methodism has had its two dispensations the old and the 
new rather sharply marked off from each other. The contrast between the Scarborough 
of 1820, with its primitive Spa, and the Scarborough of the present day, with its 


magnificent Spa Saloon and all else that is the outgrowth of recent years, is great 
indeed, as our illustrations show. But the contrast between the Primitive Methodism 
of the old epoch and the new in Scarborough is scarcely less noteworthy ; and yet how 
comparatively recent these more impressive developments have been ! It is with 
a feeling of surprise we realise that, as late as 1860, the only chapel the denomination 
could show in Scarborough was the one standing on the original site in St. Sepulchre 
Street. True, the building had been enlarged in 1839 to hold seven hundred hearers, 
but still, we who worshipped there can recall now how the lengthening shadows of the 
old dispensation rested upon the building. Good work was done in the old sanctuary. 
There were worthy men men of intelligence and character, and of Connexional loyalty 



men like Messrs. Boreman, Fenby, Linn, Sellars, Appleby, and especially John Yule, 
shrewd, quaint, who knew both the outside and inside of books almost as well as he 
knew men. There were seasons of revival, and much enthusiasm and success in the 
raising of missionary money, but for all that, one can see now that, until the building 
of Jubilee Chapel in 1861, the good old dispensation reigned. This enterprise was 
a turning-point and new departure, and, historically, rightly belongs to the chapel- 
building era, that seems to have been inaugurated by the erection in Hull of Jarratt 
Street Chapel. There were those of the old dispensation, however, in Scarborough as 
there were in Hull, who did not understand or sympathise with the new movement 
then having its beginning. Men shook their heads and prophesied disaster, but, 


happily, lived long enough to see their lugubrious predictions falsified.* The vis inertia; 

* If any proof is needed of the statement here made, it will be found in a letter of warning and 
remonstrance written to the superintendent at the time by Eev. J. Flesher then resident in the 
town. That letter is printed in the memoir of C. Kendall, Magazine, 1882, and remains to show 
how even the great and good may have their limitations of view. This reference is due to the 
dead, and would, one cannot but think, be approved by them; for Mr. Flesher closes his letter 
which had to be read to the " go-a-heads " with the words : " I keep a rough draft of these views 
for future reference, and should unexpected facts prove them to be ill-founded, I shall, if alive, 
rejoice that the superior prudence and zeal of these brethren who think and act differently from 
me, have been crowned with complete success." 



to be overcome was so great, that the superintendent, who had gone some way in 
pushing on the project for the new chapel, resolved to leave the circuit and let some 
one else come to it who could hring the undertaking to a successful issue, and then 
enjoy the fruition of the work. He exchanged circuits Avith Hugh Campbell, whom 





we may justly regard as one of the great chapel-builders of the Hull District, since 
sixteen chapels and two unfinished ones, besides schools at Louth and ministers' houses 
at Scotter, stand to his credit. Mr. Campbell came fresh from building Victoria Street 
Chapel, Griinsby, but, unfortunately, he lost his life as the result of a street-accident 



before the Aberdeen Walk Chapel was opened in 1861. Another notable advance was 
marked, combining all that was best both in the old and new, when a new chapel, 
handsome and commodious, was built in 1866 in St. Sepulchre Street, under the 
superintendency of the Rev. Thomas Whitehead. Since then, as our own view of 
Scarborough chapels shows, still further chapel extension has taken place in the 
borough. For Scarborough the chapel-building era has done great things, as it has 
done also for Grimsby. 



HOUGH we begin a fresh chapter, it is but to resume the narrative of 
Hull Circuit's missionary efforts at the precise point the two preceding 
chapters left it. These further advances, both in a westerly and northerly 
direction, resulted in the formation, in 1824, of a new district made up of 
those branches that were deemed sufficiently strong to stand alone. These new intakes 
from the outlying field of the world were called the Sunderland District, because the 
largest and strongest circuits of the district were found along the lower reaches of the 
Tyne and the AVear, and were the outcome of the Northern Mission. But it is observable 
that in the Sunderland District, as originally constituted, the Silsden and Keighley 
Circuits also have a place, the reason being that, besides its Northern Mission, Hull 
Circuit had also a mission in the West Riding beyond Leeds, among " Craven hills and 
Airedale streams," and Silsden and Keighley, the first-fruits of this line of evangelisation, 
were incorporated with the newly-made Sunderland District. This Western or Craven 
mission had extensions into Lancashire, even as far as the Ribble, and the fact that 
Preston, Blackburn and Clitheroe stand on the stations of 1824, shows that this 
evangelistic movement did not spend its force this side the Pennine range. For the 
time being these Lancashire circuits are attached to Tunstall District, but they will 
naturally fall to Manchester District when that is formed in 1827. Nor is this all; 
while moving west and north, Hull Circuit was also at the same time, with Darlington 
and Barnard Castle Branches as a convenient base, pushing on vigorously in the north- 
west, and by 1824, Hexham and -Carlisle were fit for self-government, and accordingly 
have their place among the stations of the Sunderland District. Looking at their 
result, we may regard these three lines of evangelisation as parts of one movement. 
We have Sunderland District in the making. 

Primitive Methodism went into Craven, to Darlington, to Newcastle, to North 
Shields, just as it had gone to Hull and Leeds by invitation. In each case, before he 
went, the missionary had heard the cry " Come over and help us." But the cry came 
not from those who wanted saving but from those who wanted to save, and had their own 
ideas as to how the salvation could best be brought about. One anticipatory observation 
we cannot forbear making once for all : it is remarkable how in almost every successive 
district into which Primitive Methodism came, there was the repetition on a small 
scale of what had taken place in Staffordshire at the beginning of its history. The fact 
points to the prevalence of similar conditions of church-life to conflicting ideals of 
Christian worship, duty and service. To some in the same church " revivalism " was 

H 2 



not wanted any more than fire or fever ; while to others it was the thing above all 
others they wished to see. Differences which have disappeared, or if they have not, 
no longer serve to divide men, then seemed formidable and unadj ustable. These 
differences were not lessened by the fact that what one class regarded as innovations in 
practice, the other class claimed to be "according to Wesley " original and "primitive." 
So brethren did not quite see eye to eye, and got to be at cross-purposes. These differences 
ever along tended to differentiate themselves so as to become cognisant to sense, and it 
has taken three-quarters of a century to disentangle these differences and to bring the 
estranged brethren together again. Reflections such as these will be obvious enough as 
we follow the narrative through this new chapter. 

Silsden, in Craven, whence came one of these Macedonian cries, was, in 1821, 


a village of some 1300 inhabitants, who were chiefly engaged in nail-making and wool- 
combing. As to higher matters, the place, we are told, was notorious for "ignorance, 
rudeness and crime." And yet, it hardly should have rested under such a stigma, for 
Silsden was not far distant from Haworth, where Grimshawe had preached and prayed. 
Six miles away was Skipton, the capital of the Craven district, with its historic castle 
and its memories of the Cliffords. At this time, John Flesher was living in Silsden at 
the house of his father, the village schoolmaster. Though but a youth of twenty he 
had been a Wesleyan Methodist five years, and already had preached his trial sermon 
before the Rev. Joseph Fowler, of " Sidelights " fame.* As is the case with the many, 

* "Side Lights on the Conflicts of Methodism. Taken chiefly from the Notes of the late 
Rev. Joseph Fowler," etc. By Benjamin Gregory, D.D. 


the young " local " might have been content to tread the beaten path of routine ; but 
he was not. He spent much time in visitation ; he made personal, pointed appeals to 
his friends and neighbours on soul-matters ; he even went the length of preaching from 
his father's doorstep. We need scarcely wonder if some of his proceedings were little 
relished by his co-religionists. " How forward ! How indiscreet ! So young a man, 
too ! ' There were head-shakings, and non-committal, critical looks and whisperings. 
Still there were not wanting those who approved, although they might not share his 
zeal. One who had been down in Lincolnshire buying wool, brought back glowing 
accounts of the doings of the Primitives in those parts, and finished with the observa- 
tion that the young schoolmaster might do worse than invite these people into Craven : 
they would suit him to a nicety. Whether the suggestion Avere seriously meant or not, 
it was seriously taken and soon bore fruit. 

Meanwhile, another Wesleyan local preacher in the neighbourhood of Skipton was 
led to take the same step as John Flesher to invite the Primitives to enter Craven. 
John Parkinson, a local preacher since 1812, was Avhat Hugh Bourne Avould at once 
have described as a " Revivalist." He had taken part in beginning and carrying on 
a Sunday school in his father's barn ; he did not confine his labours to places set apart 
for public worship, but preached in the streets and lanes and on village-greens ; he had 
Avhat he called his ' mission, ' comprising several villages he regularly visited. The 
criticism and discouragement, Avhich came in due course, led him seriously to " ponder 
his Avays." Was he right or wrong? After conference Avith a friend, the two adjourned 
to an enclosure leading to Silsden Moor, and there they believed they received a divine 
intimation that they must go on in their chosen line of activity. At this juncture, 
tidings reached them that hundreds of sinners Avere being converted in Leeds and its 
neighbourhood through the labours of the Primitive Methodists, and their " Come over 
and help us " Avas duly sent. Their resignations were handed in to the authorities and 
reluctantly accepted, and they Avere now free to throw in their lot with the missionaries 
when they should arrive. 

In response to this double invitation, Samuel Laister, whom 
we have already seen on the Wolds, at Leeds, and at Malton, 
Avas sent to Skipton and Silsden, March, 1821, and, soon after, 
the deA r oted Thomas Batty came on the ground, and laboured 
some nine months in Craven before going on the north-western 
mission at Barnard Castle. Thomas Batty (born 1790) as a child 
came into close touch with Joseph Benson, Joseph Entwisle 
and other eminent Wesleyan ministers Av'ho Avere entertained 
at his father's house. William BraniAvell's hand had often been 
fondly placed on his head. Batty entered the navy and got his 
discharge in 1813. He became a Wesleyan local preacher at 
North Frodingham, but having preached at two camp meetings 
REV THOMAS BATTY. ^ fa Q Driffield Branch, he had to make his choice between 

Age! 45 years. 

ceasing to attend camp meetings or ceasing to be a Wesleyan 

local preacher. He chose the latter alternative. This Avas in the spring of 1820, 
and just a year after, he began as a hired local preacher in Driffield Branch, and 



was soon transferred to Silsden Mission. The second service at Silsden was held in the 
house of Mr. Flesher, sen., and for some little time the society had the use of his harn 
for religious services. One of Mr. Flesher's cherished recollections was of a certain 
evening when " forty-four sinners were pricked in their heart under one sermon." One 

of the forty-four was the late Mr. Joshua Fletcher, 
for many years a leading Connexions] official in 
Yorkshire. Messrs. David Tillotson and William 
Newton were also among the first converts in the 
old barn, and rendered eminent service to the 
cause, while Silsden was the birth-place, natural 
and spiritual, of Revs. W. Inman, T. Baron and 
S. Bracewell, and the home of Mr. G. Baron, 
whose connection with the Bemersley Book- 
Room has already been referred to.* 

Needless to say, John Flesher not only invited 
the Primitives to Craven, but when they came 
united himself to them. Soon, however, he 
removed to a school in Leeds, and by June, 
1822, he had entered the ministry, his first 
appointment being to Tadcaster. Later, we 
shall see something of what he was as legis- 
lator, re-organiser of the Book-Room and Editor: 
what he was in his prime as a preacher and 
platform speaker we can now but imperfectly 
picture. But one who knew him Avell, has 
declared that " he surpassed every other speaker it had been his fortune to listen to, ' in 
the matter of passion,' as Foster phrases it, which he infused into all his discourses." 
He calls him "the Bradburn of Primitive Methodism," and avers that "he might have 
been its Watson, if he had not preferred immediate to more remote results." t 





* See vol. ii. pp. 78 for portraits and further references to the brothers Barou. 

t " United Methodist Free Churches' Magazine," 1859. We judge the writer to have been the 
Editor, Rev. Matthew Baxter, who for two years, 1829-31, was in our ministry, Mr. Flesher had 
a high estimate of Mr. Baxter's talents. 


As a pioneer worker in the Craven district, John Parkinson deserves a further word 
or two. He is said to have missioned Braildon, and to have been among the first to 
publish the glad tidings at Keighley, Shipley and Bradford. He, too, was not wanting 
"in the matter of passion." He evidently had all the intensity and perfervidness of 
the West Eiding temperament, as the following description of an actual camp meeting 
scene in Craven at which he figured, will show. Mr. Flesher himself is the writer, and 
while the passage is worth giving as a fair specimen of Mr. Flesher's prose, of which 
we have so little, it may have its use as going some way to show us what we are so 
anxious to know what sort of preaching it was which in those far-off days produced 
those immediate and tremendous effects which excite our wonder, and our envy too, as 
we read. 

" He figures in my recollection as I saw him addressing a crowd from a waggon at 
Silsden. Every eye and heart of the vast assembly seemed riveted on the speaker, and 
deep feeling was betrayed on every countenance, as if struggling for an outlet. The 
doom of the finally impenitent was under review at the time, and terribly did the 
preacher portray it. Suddenly he paused, as if to let his hearers weigh their destinies. 
This heightened the effect, and many a stone-hearted sinner sighed under the weight of 
his guilt. As tears were flowing fast, mingling with the meanings of the broken- 
hearted, brother Parkinson, in apparent triumph, while his coxmtenance, gesture, voice, 
and feeling harmonised with his address, opened the gate of mercy so effectually that 
some immediately entered it, and were saved, some clung to the wheels and shelvings 
of the waggons to avoid being borne down to the ground under the load of guilt, while 
the praises of the pious poured forth from all parts of the assembly. Jubilant were 
angels that day over many sinners repenting and turning to Christ." 

That John Parkinson missioned Shipley in 1821 is confirmed by Rev. Richard 
Cordingley, who tells us that meetings were held in the houses of Mrs. Emanuel 
Hodgson and Mrs. Cordingley. Richard Cordingley joined the class that was formed, 
and when barely fifteen years of age, came on the Silsden plan, having as his fellow- 
exhorters Solomon Moore, of Keighley, and Jabez afterwards Dr. Burns, whom we 
shall meet again. Of later worthies of Keighley Primitive Methodism, respectful 
mention must be made of the two remarkable brothers, Messrs. F. and Addyman 

An untoward event that might have proved a huge disaster happened on the occasion 
of the holding of the first lovefeast in Keighley, September 16th, 1821, and was 
deemed of sufficient public interest to be chronicled in the current issue of "The Times." 
The lovefeast was held in the topmost story of a wool-warehouse. Thomas Batty, as 
the leader, had just pronounced the benediction, when the floor gave way. With 
shrieks, and amid dust and broken beams and flooring, the crowd fell into the rooms 
below. The preacher, by his sailor-like agility, managed to save himself by leaping 
into the embrasure of a window ; but many were hurt, and one woman died next day 
from injuries received. Some said the event was intended as a judgment on the 
"Ranters"; nevertheless the cause prospered, and ; in 1824, Keighley was made 
a Circuit of the Sunderland District. One of the first to open his house for religious 
services Avas the father of Rev. J. Judson, who began his more public labours by 




becoming a hired local preacher in Keighley, his native Circuit. His ministry of forty -one 
laborious years began in 1833 in the Silsden Circuit, where he stayed three years, the 
last year being devoted to Grassington Mission under the auspices of Keighley. 
Mr. Judson travelled in most of the leading circuits in the Manchester District, and 
died at Oldham, -June 28th, 1876. 

Before leaving the neighbourhood of Keighley, a reference may be permitted to the 
opening of Haworth by F. N. Jersey, who spent two months 
on the Silsden Branch. AVriting under the date of April 25th, 
he says : 

"Went to open Haworth. I sung a hymn down the street. 
The people flocked as doves to the windows. I preached to about 
nine hundred people, and two very wicked men were awakened. 
Praise the Lord for ever." 

The Rev. Patrick Bronte became curate of Haworth and removed 
there in 1820. When F. N. Jersey sang down the streets of the 
moorland village, Charlotte Bronte was a girl of six. One likes 
to think that the girl who was to make that village famous heard 
the singing, and may even have looked on the unwonted scene. 
Silsden Branch included not only the Craven district, but also some places in the 
adjoining county of Lancaster, such as Barley, lying under Pendlehill, where there was 
a vigorous society, and Trawdon, the native place of Robert Hartley, uncle of Mr. "VV. P. 
Hartley, whom also this district was afterwards to nurture, to the great advantage of 
our Church. Born in 1817, Robert Hartley entered the ministry in 1835, and in 1859 
went to Australia, "becoming the most widely-known and most generally respected 
minister of the gospel of Central Queensland." He could count among his friends such 
men as Canon Knox Little and Dr. A. Maclaren, and at his death, in 1892, the citizens 
of Rockhampton erected a public memorial to his "noble character, godly life, and 
untiring benevolence." It was at Barley that John Petty preached, November, 1823, 
his first sermon, and it was at Trawdon where he began, and fell in lasting love with the 
practice of open-air preaching. John Petty 's home was at Salterforth, a village on the 
western border of Yorkshire. It was first missioned by F. N. Jersey, 
who preached in the village street during the dinner-hour. The 
next to follow was Thomas Batty. In the character of this minister, 
whom his father entertained, John Petty found the most powerful 
persuasive to the Christian life. The sermons Batty preached in 
the barn were not so telling as the sermon he preached by his 
daily life and conversation. So this thoughtful youth felt. Hence, 
without any great spiritual shock or struggle, he went on to 
know the Lord, being "drawn by the cords" of a Christ-like man. 
Mr. Petty lived to write the biography of his captor for Christ, 
and he tells how, as a youth of fifteen, "he was deeply moved, 
and his heart graciously drawn out after God." Mr. Batty, he 
adds : " Seemed to be always happy, constantly joyful in the Lord, practically 
presenting religion in a most attractive and winning form. He could converse, sing, 

t ged 43. 



preach, and pray almost all day long ; and greatly did he charm and profit the domestic 
circle."* Mr. Petty, sen., became the leader of the first class at Salterforth, while 
his son was soon to enter on wider service. Two years to a day after preaching his 
first sermon at Barley, " John Bowes fetched me to help him in Keighley Circuit," says 
Mr. Petty, and in 1826, Avhen not yet nineteen, he was sent to 
distant Haverfordwest.t 

The missionaries now pushed on still farther into Lancashire. 
Blackburn and Preston were reached, and these towns became almost 
at once the head of a new branch. The late Rev. W. Brining 
affirms that Thomas Batty missioned Preston in 1821. The 
statement is confirmed by .Jonathan Ireland, who tells us that 
Mr. Batty preached in a cottage, in which some of the more zealous 
Wesleyans held one of their prayer meetings ; that in a short time 
the members were forbidden to receive the Primitives into their 
houses, and that some of the members resisted the interdict, Mr. 
W. Brining, aWesleyan local preacher, being one. J So far Jonathan 
Ireland. Mr. Brining himself states, that his father and he joined the Primitives in 
January, 1822, and took a large room, for the rent of which his father became responsible ; 
also that he and three .others were appointed local preachers, and that the March 
Quarterly Meeting of the Hull Circuit "took him out to travel," and that he began 
his labours on the Preston Branch along with Mr. G. Tindall. There is also evidence to 
show that John Harrison, too, was an early pioneer labourer in this district. According 
to the late Rev. S. Smith, Mr. Harrison made his way tt to Preston, and was entertained 
by Mr. Shorrocks (afterwards a leader in Manchester), and was also taken before the 
Mayor of Preston as a suspicious character, but was courteously entreated and dismissed 
with " a glass of wine ! " 

Mr. Batty also opened Blackburn, Wigan, Padiham, and Accrington. 
From the Journals and memoirs of the time, we cull one or two 
references to these and other places connected with this early 
mission. We are told that at Blackburn Mr. Batty preached his 
first sermon standing on a dunghill ! Be this as it may, one man 
that day was, metaphorically, lifted from the dunghill ; for a certain 
James Chadwick, one of the worst men in the town, was converted, 
and became a useful member of society. At Wigan, on May 6th, 
1822, he sent the bellman round the town, and in the evening 
preached to about a thousand people. At Chorley he spoke at the 
Cross to an immense concourse of people, and in the evening preached 
in the room which the players had occupied. Mr. Brining made 
his way to Haslingden, and a class was formed at " Manchester Mary's." Mr. G. Tindall 

*" Memoir of the Life and Labours of Thomas Batty, 1857," p. 44. 

tSee Ante, vol. i. p. 344. 

J " Jonathan Ireland, the street-preacher," p. 26. See also for Mr. Ireland's Preston experiences 
Ante, vol. ii., p. 24. 

" The Introduction and Spread of Primitive Methodism in Lancashire : " in " Facts and 
Incidents," p. 103. 



enters in his Journal, on April 25th, 1822: " Went as a missionary among the small 
villages to search for places to preach at." On May 6th, he spoke at Clitheroe Market- 
cross to a large concourse of people, and formed a class of ten members. On June 1 6th, 
he spoke at Padiham, Oakenshaw, and Accrington, and adds : "I had to oppose drunkards, 
formal professors, Unitarians, and almost all other characters of sinners." 

The progress made by both branches was such that, in December, 1823, they were 
granted self-government ; Silsden starting its career with five preachers and Preston 
with three. At the same time Clitheroe, with Burnley, Accrington, Barley, Colne, and 
other places were detached, and constituted a branch of Silsden. 1824 saw both 
Blackburn and Clitheroe raised to the status of circuits. But, ere long, Clitheroe found 
it difficult to maintain its position, so much so that Keighley, Blackburn, and Bolton 
Circuits were in succession asked to take it under their wing; but in each case the 
overture was declined. Then, Daniel-like, the circuit determined " to stand alone ; " 
only, as Clitheroe Society had for the time being become extinct, Burnley was made the 
head of the circuit. 

Burnley is a typical Lancashire town, largely the creation of the new industrial era. 

Its position, in a basin-like 
depression among the hills, 
has helped it. The humid 
atmosphere of the valley is just 
adapted for cotton-spinning, and 
manufacturers have been quick 
to seize their advantage, so that 
now Burnley is a busy centre 
of the cotton-spinning industry. 
Hence, if not exactly a town of 
yesterday, Burnley has made 
its most notable advance within 
recent years, as may be gathered 
from the fact that, at the begin- 
ning of the last century, its 
population was little more than 
five thousand. Our Church has thriven with the thriving of the town. Burnley is under- 
stood to be the "Lynford" of Mr. Joseph Hocking's story, "The Purple Robe,"and amongst 
the hard-headed, strenuous folk there depicted, our ministrations have met with much 
acceptance. When, in 1896, Burnley for the first time welcomed the Conference to 
North-East Lancashire, any one who saw the commodious and substantially-built chapels 
in the town and neighbourhood, would have learned with some surprise that, up to 
1834, the society of but fifty members had not as yet got its chapel, but had to make 
shift with rented rooms, four of which were occupied in succession before Curzon Street 
Chapel was opened in 1834. This "setting-up house" took place during the superin- 
tendency of Rev. M. Lee, whose term of service in the Burnley Circuit seems to have 
begun the era of progress. In 1852, Bethel Chapel was built, and certainly not before 
time, since Curzon Street Chapel did not provide seatage \ for much more than 




half the members who formed the society. This chapel of 1852, since greatly improved 
and added to, is all that is left to represent the original Burnley Circuit. New interests 
have been created, and by division and subdivision Burnley Second, Colne, Barrowford, 
and Nelson Circuits -"have' been formed the first division taking place in 1864, when 
Colne started on an independent career. 

The historian of ^Burnley Primitive Methodism has rightly recalled the names of 

many of its worthies past and 
present.* We borrow his refer- 
ences to two or three of the 
early workers. First in order 
comes John Lancaster, who, as 
a youth, received lasting good 
from John Petty when he 
preached at Burnley in knee- 
breeches, and standing on the 
slop-stone. " He was for thirty- 
three years one of the most 
devoted and earnest men ever 
given to a Christian com- 
munity." Stephen Tattersall 
" was long a useful and zealous 
official;" Jonathan Gaukrodger, 
" ever ready by toil and purse to help the cause ; " John Marsden, " cheerful, generous, 
' given to hospitality/ an efficient and devoted superintendent of the Sunday School ; " 
W. Thornber, for fifty -five years a local preacher; and John Baldwin, "who may be 
described as the successor of John Lancaster; for more than thirty years^a class-leader, 
and who for more than half a century filled, with much acceptance, the office of local 

The head of Burnley Second is Colne Road, Brierfield, with its chapel, erected 1864, 





and its splendid school premises built twenty years after. Connected with this cause, 
to which he has rendered most efficient aid, is Alderman J. Smith, who was Chairman 
of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Missionary Meeting in 1902, and who is well known for 

* " Bethel Primitive Methodist Chapel, 1852-1902. Jubilee Souvenir," by Rev. George King. 


the interest he has taken in the Connexional Orphanage and other institutions. The 
late James Clarkson was to the Brierfield Society pretty much what John Lancaster was 
to Bethel. When he was arrested by grace he was a beer- seller; but he pulled down 
his sign, poured his unsold liquor down the sewer, and never rested till he found 
forgiveness. " By his diligence, zeal, piety, and abundant labours he became one of the 
most useful officials in the Connexion." 

After Blackburn was made a circuit the same process of " multiplication by division " 
went on which we have seen at work in the case of Burnley, its earliest offshoot. The 
one circuit has become at least five ; for Blackburn is now represented by Haslingden, 
formed as long ago as 1837 ; Foxhill Bank and Accrington, made from Haslingden in 
1864, and the three Blackburn Circuits. With Haslingden Circuit was connected 
Mr. James Whittaker, for many years a prominent Lancashire official. Precisely the 
same kind of intensive growth has gone on in the Preston Circuit since its formation in 
1823. But what it concerns us more just now to note is the fact, that Preston, by its 
early missionary labours, helped to extend the borders of the Connexion. It pushed 
forward into new territory into certain parts of North Lancashire the first missionaries 
from Hull had not reached. This not very thickly populated country lay to the north 
by the Lime and Morecambe Bay, and curved round to the Kibble, where, on one side 
of the estuary, in the Fylde district, were Fleetwood and Blackpool, and on the other 
S outhport, rising among its sandbanks. Here and there in this district Preston 
succeeded in establishing societies which abide and flourish. Notably Preston began 
those tentative efforts which ultimately secured a footing for the Connexion in the two 
popular watering-places, even then fast growing in size and public favour. We must 
briefly notice these aggressive efforts which were a continuation of Hull's Western 
Mission, and carried the evangel from the Humber to Morecambe 
Bay and the sand-dunes by the Irish Sea. 

We have before us a plan of Preston Circuit for May-July, 
1832, when S. Smith, J. Moore, and J. A. Bastow were its 
preachers. Halton beyond the Lune and Lancaster are two 
places on this plan regularly supplied with preachers. At 
Lancaster the Preston missionaries sometimes experienced rough 
usage, and occasionally made acquaintance with the interior of 
Lancaster Castle.* (Parenthetically it may be mentioned that 
as late as 1874 the Rev. Thomas Wilshaw was summoned by 
the Chief Constable for preaching from the Town Hall steps. 
The costs of the defence were generously paid by Mr. James 
Williamson, jun., afterwards Lord Ashton, and the magistrates 

dismissed the case). A Missionary Meeting was held at Lancaster in 1829, interest- 
ing to us because it brought together Hugh Bourne and a Preston youth who was 
just about to begin a ministry of unprecedented length and influence. A camp 

* " Preston entered largely into the mission-work for twenty or thirty miles round. Here they 
had some persecutions : one of their missionaries was seized by the yeoman cavalry at Lancaster and 
shockingly ill-treated. Brother F. Charlton was thrown into Lancaster Castle by a bad man, who 
afterwards died raging mad." Eev. S. Smith, " Anecdotes and Facts of Primitive Methodism," p. 104. 


meeting and lovefeast lie attended at Preston in 1826 had powerfully impressed George 
Lamb. He joined the society, and improved his talents so markedly that his profiting 
appeared to all ; and now, it would seem, Hugh Bourne had set his heart upon being 
the medium of conveying to the young man the call of the Church to wider service, and 
had come to Lancaster for that very purpose, as well as to assist at the Missionary 
Meeting. The two had conference together, and then Hugh Bourne thoughtfully gave 
the young man, just putting on the harness, a letter of recommendation to the friends at 
Halifax, Leeds, and York, the towns he must pass through on his way to Pocklington, 
his first circuit. Fifty-seven years after this informal ordination service, Mr. Lamb was 
still in harness. Old age had but mellowed his character, while there was little 
appreciable decline of vigour or industry in his service ; and then the word of dismissal 
came, February, 1886. Mr. Lamb was twice President, 1866 and 1884, General Book 
Steward, Conferential Deputation to Canada, 1876, Member of the Deed Poll, 1880. 
A mission, that in its first eight years gave John Flesher, John Petty, and George Lamb 
to our Church, as Hull's Western Mission did, has strong claims on our remembrance. 

At Lancaster, an old coach-house in Bulk Street was, in 1836, fitted up as a chapel. 
Through the spread of " Barkerism " this building was for a time lost to the society. 
Afterwards, however, it was recovered, made Connexional, and served the uses of the 
society until 1854, when Ebenezer was built. Meanwhile, Lancaster had been separated 
from Preston and made part of the Settle and Halifax Mission of Halifax Circuit. In 
1837, the writer's father "travelled" in the full sense of the word on this mission, 
Avhich stretched some forty miles, from Bellbusk in Craven to Heysham by the seaside. 
As he was wont to say : " It constituted a first-rate promenade for creating an appetite, 
but was remarkably scanty in supplying the wherewithal to appease it. That had to be 
got how and when it could." We need not follow the history of Lancaster after it was 
taken over by the General Missionary Committee, except to notice that it was again 
separated from Settle, and after a period of barrenness and struggle it gradually 
improved, and in 1868 was granted circuit independence, Morecambe being formed from 
it in 1901. A document in our possession brings home to the mind in a realistic way 
the amount of toil, voluntarily and cheerfully undergone in the past by the local 
preachers of some of our most unproductive fields of labour. But for their loyalty and 
tenacity, what are now comparatively vigorous circuits, such as Lancaster is, might have 
been abandoned. The document in question is an analysis of the Lancaster Plan for 
the quarter April to June, 1844. It shows that the twelve local preachers, whose 
names stand on this plan, took amongst them one hundred and seventeen Sunday 
appointments, and thirty-nine week-evening services, exclusive of prayer meetings and 
class meetings, and that the number of miles they walked to their appointments 
amounted in the aggregate to seven hundred and sixty-two. 

Three of the twelve whose names stand on this plan bear the name of Bickerstaffe 
William and two of his sons. The former was the carrier of the mails between Settle 
and Lancaster. He was a Wesleyan local preacher, and in those pre-railway days found 
a home for the travelling-preacher and stabling for his horse. But he joined the 
Primitives, "thinking he could be more useful amongst them." He did not regret the 
choice he had made, but did all for the new community and more than he had done for 



the old one, with which he had no quarrel. His son, Henry, was for many years 
a leading official of the Lancaster Circuit, while Us son, Mr. T. Y. Bickerstaffe, is its 
present Steward, and a local preacher of the fourth generation bears the old name. 
The reference to the Bickerstaffes may he pardoned as, in 1843, the father of the writer 
took a daughter of this house from the Bulk Street Society to be the companion of his 
ministerial toils. 

On that same Preston Plan of 1832, to which we have referred, we find Chorley, 
besides Wrightington, Wheelton, and Standish, in the direction of Wigan. To this 
period and district belongs the story of Mr. Bastow's imprisonment for preaching in 
Wigan Market-place. An occupant of the same cell, struck by his respectable 
appearance, wanted to know what he had done to get himself put there. " Preaching 
the gospel " was the answer. k ' And I," said the man, " am here for not attending divine 
worship. They are a strange people here, and how to please them no one knows. 


You are sent to prison for being good, and I for being bad. We are a strange pair 
both to be imprisoned by the same man and the same laws ! " We note that in the 
process of consolidation, Chorley was made from Preston and Wigan from Chorley, in 
1837 and 1867 respectively. 

Hoole, which also stands on this plan, formed the base for the missioning of 
Southport and its vicinity. Here, somewhere about 1824, a two-floored house was 
rented, the partitions were removed, and a flight of stone steps, built on the outside, led 
to the upper room, which formed a fair chapel, while the room on the ground floor was 
used as a school. Two chapels have since been built at Hoole, and in the graveyard, 
attached to the first of these, lie the remains of one at least of the three men who, with 
the Preston ministers, had much to do with the missioning of Southport Thomas and 
Richard Hough and John Webster, who for many years were abundant in missionary 



labours. The first services at Southport, we are told, were held in a barn at Church- 
town likewise on this plan and a chapel and school were built in 1833 and enlarged 
in 1853, and Southport, with 186 members, became a circuit in 1864. It is interesting 
to note that the plan of 1832 announces a camp meeting to be held "in the North 
Meols," near Southport, on June 10th. 

Preston, too, missioned the Fylde district. Rev. S. Smith has an anecdote, from 
internal evidence belonging to an early period, relating to " our Fylde missionary," who 
after preaching at night in the streets of Poulton "a sadly wicked place" found 
himself eighteen miles from home without the prospect of supper or bed, but who 
providentially found both. There is reason to believe that Freckleton was made the 
base for opening up the Fylde, in which are now the Blackpool and Fleetwood Circuits. 
At this place a pious widow, named Rawstorne, lent her thatched cottage for services, 
and provided accommodation for the missionary. Then, in 1848, the Rev. B. Whillock, 
the Superintendent of Preston Circuit, in conjunction with the afore-named John 
Webster, took a factory, and became responsible for the rent. This building was used 
for worship until 1862, when a small chapel was opened, and this served until 
superseded in 1892 by a worthier building. The Rev. B. Whillock entered the 




ministry in 1830, and in 1870 removed to the United States, where he is a permanent 
member of the Primitive Methodist Eastern Conference. As his letters show, 
Mr. Whillock retains a lively interest in the Church of the homeland, and is full 
of reminiscences of its past. 

Besides helping to enlarge the geographical area of the Connexion, Preston also did 
something towards enlarging the scope of its endeavours. It led the way in one branch 
of social reform that which seeks by organised effort to war against intemperance. It 
showed how this kind of social service could be undertaken religiously, and temperance 
meetings be made to further the interests of the kingdom of God. No historian of the 
Temperance movement in this country can overlook the part played by " proud Preston " 
in the beginnings of that movement. He will point to that town and show how, from 
1832 to 1835, the new sentiment in regard to strong drink not only grew in strength, 
but in clearness of purpose. It became surer of its ground, and more militant and 
altruistic. Nor can the historian of our Church omit all reference to these things ; for, 
if now we not only have a Temperance Department within the Church, but belong 
to a Church which is very largely a Temperance Church, it is partly owing to the fact 



tliat, seventy years ago, the ministers of Preston Circuit, and some of the members of 
old Lawson Street, as after of Saul Street, were heart and soul in the new movement, 
which speedily drew others within its vortex. Probably, not even before 1831, was our 
Church one whit behind other Churches in regard to the question of intemperance ; 
rather was it ahead of them. To say this, however, is not to say a great deal ; and it is 
safe to affirm that when this plan of 1832 came from the press, Preston was in advance 
of the Connexion generally in temperance sentiment. True ; there were here and there 
convinced individual abstainers. The Rev. James Macpherson signed the pledge as 
early as 1828, and Hugh Bourne was practically a teetotaller before either Moderation 

or Total Abstinence 
Societies had an ex- 
istence. But what 
Preston did was to 
afford an object-lesson, 
showing how to mobi- 
lise the forces of the 
Church against the 


drinking customs which preyed 
upon society, and even threatened 
the Church itself. It made a 
beginning in combining indi- 
vidual temperance men in a 
league against the common foe 
offensive and defensive. Let 
us give the briefest summary of 
events relating to the early stages 
of the Temperance movement in 
Preston so far at least as our 
Church was concerned in those movements. We give this summation in paragraphs, and 
those desirous of fuller information may consult with advantage the Rev. J. Travis' 
articles on "Primitive Methodism and the Temperance Reformation in England."* 

" March 22nd, 1832. Preston Temperance Society formed on the basis of the 
'moderation pledge.' 

" April 13th. Committee appointed, of which Rev. S. Smith was a member. Its 
first meeting was presided over by Rev. J. A. Bastow. The second memorable 
meeting was held on May 3rd in Lawson Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, at 
which Mr. Livesey, in a forcible speech, took the line of total abstinence. 

"July llth. First Temperance Tea-party, at which 574 persons were present, 
and Messrs. Livesey, S. Smith, and several Preston working-men spoke. Next day 

* Aldersgate Magazine, 1899. 



MK. .1. KING. 

One of the 
'Seven Men of Prestou. 


a Field Meeting of the Society was held on the Moor, at which Messrs. Livesey, 
Smith, and Teare gave addresses. 

' September 1st, 1832. A special meeting was held for discussing the question of 
the total abstinence pledge. No decision was arrived at, but several tarried after 

the meeting, and seven signed the total 

abstinence pledge. Of these ' seven men of 

Preston,' three were Primitive Methodists, 

viz., John King, Joseph Richardson, who 

was wont to say, 'I am the happiest man 

alive, for no man can be happier than a 

teetotal Primitive Methodist;' and the third 

was Richard Turner, who is credited with 

having originated the word 'teetotal.' At 

his funeral in 1846, the Saul Street Sunday 

School, and four hundred teetotallers from 

different parts of the country, attended. 
"April, 1834. Mr. George Toulmin,* the 

Secretary of the Lawson Street Sunday 

School, and Mr. Thomas Walmsley, moved 

the resolution, which resulted in the forma- 
tion of the first Sunday School Total Abstinence Society, inaugurated April 18th. 
It was not till 1835 that the Preston Temperance Society became a strictly 
Total Abstinence Society, so that the Juvenile Society formed by the Primitive 
Methodists was the''first society on a ' teetotal ' basis in Preston, and, it is believed, 
the first Juvenile Teetotal Society in England." 

We conclude our notice of Preston by giving 
the portrait of Rev. George Kidd, whose 
ministry in Preston, 1864-7, was signalised 
by his heading one hundred and twenty 
stalwarts who refused to pay the Easter Church 
Dues, and secured their abolition : also that of 
Mr. \\ illiam Salthouse, born at Roseacre, in 
the Eylde District, in 1834, who for half a 
century has stood by Preston Primitive Metho- 
dism, and served its interests preferably in the 
quieter ways of service. 




As already said, Darlington and Barnard Castle furnished the base for the prosecution 
of Hull's North- Western Mission. The immediate fruits of this mission are seen in the 
inclusion of Hoxham and Carlisle in the Sunderland District, at its formation in 1824, 
and, by 1842, in the addition of Westgate, Alston, and Whitehaven to its roll of stations. 
This mission was already being vigorously carried on when the large towns on the Tyne 

*Mr. Toulmin became proprietor of the Preston Guardian, and other Journals, member of the 
Town Council and Borough Magistrate, and his son, who also is an ardent temperance man, is the 
Member for Bury in thejpresent Parliament. 


and Wear were entered. Naturally, this is just what from geographical considerations 
one would expect to find; since Darlington lies on the great North Road, and, from 
time immemorial, travellers have taken Darlington on their way to Newcastle and 
Berwick. Though, therefore, neither Darlington nor Barnard Castle is among the 
primary circuits of the Sunderland District, we still must, for reasons both chronological 
and geographical, glance at the introduction of Primitive Methodism into these Durham 
towns, and the lines of evangelisation that went out from them, before looking at " the 
Northern Mission," which, strictly speaking, did not begin until March, 1822. 

This section of our history is not without its obscurities and difficulties, largely 
created, one cannot but think, by the method followed by W. Clowes in his published 
Journals. That method was not rigidly to adhere to the chronological order in his 
narrative of events, but to group together incidents which occurred on his various visits 
to the same place. Little harm need have resulted from this method of grouping had 
the dates of these various visits also been given ; but often dates are wanting, and hence 
the difficulties which have led some previous writers astray. Fortunately, as in the case 
of Darlington, Newcastle, and South Shields, the Journals and memoirs published in the 
contemporary Magazines furnish us with a clue to guide us on our way with some 
degree of confidence. It was needful to say thus much, in order that the occasional 
variations between our narrative and preceding ones may be prepared for and explained 

As the wind carries the seed in its fairy parachute, so the breeze of rumour had much 
to do with disseminating Primitive Methodism. The " fame " of the missionaries went 
through the countryside, bringing men or missives asking for a missionary to be sent 
to other ground. That is how Primitive Methodism got here' and there in the county of 
Durham, as elsewhere. William Young, whom we take to have been at the time an 
earnest Wesleyan, had heard of the stirring doings at Knaresborough, and sent Clowes 
a pressing invitation to visit Ingleton eight miles from Darlington. Our reading of the 
available evidence is that the visit was duly paid on Sunday, June 4th, 1820. From 
the Bipon branch, Clowes made his way to Darlington. Here 
his coming may have been prepared for and welcomed ; for, from 
the memoir of Rev. Jonathan Clewer, we learn that, after his 
marriage in 1820, he removed to Darlington, laboured as a local 
preacher, and " rendered great help towards establishing the infant 
cause." So well did he acquit himself that it was felt he was 
fitted for a wider sphere, and in 1822, Jonathan Clewer began 
his labours at Tadcaster, and continued them until his super- 
annuation in 1851. Whether, on June 4th, Jonathan Clewer 
had already begun his useful labours in Darlington, we cannot be 
sure, but on that Sunday W. Clowes took his stand in North- 

K K \ . J . CL K \\ r. 1\ . 

gate and preached. The situation selected was not without 
its significance. The street is part of the great North Road leading on to Durham, and 
in a house in this street, not far from Buhner's Stone and the new Technical College, 
Edward 'Pease lived, and in a room in this house occurred a memorable interview 
between George Stephenson, Nicholas Wood, and Edward Pease, which resulted in the 



construction of the first railway the Stockton and Darlington line. After preaching 
he went to Ingleton, where he was welcomed by Messrs. Emerson and Young. They 
sang through the streets, Mr. Clowes giving an exhortation, and then a prayer meeting 
was held in Mr. Young's house. We take it, that before July 16th (when Clowes went 
on the Hutton Rudby Mission) two Sundays more were divided between Darlington 
and Ingleton. On one of these Sundays he preached at Darlington twice, having for 
his second congregation a thousand people, and then walked to Ingleton, where he also 
preached and led the class ! On the other Sunday he preached in Bondgate, and the 
same evening renewed tickets to twenty members at Ingleton. During this visit he 
preached more than once at Cockfield, and formed a society of four members at 
Evenwood. With Jonathan Clewer already, or soon to be, at Darlington, with Messrs. 


Emerson and Young steady adherents of the cause, and some twenty members at 
Ingleton, and with a small society at Evenwood, we have already the beginning of 
a branch in these parts; and so, May 6th, 1821, Samuel Laister began his labours in 
Darlington Branch, and continued them unremittingly until his lamented death on 
Christmas Day of the same year. At first, he could not but feel the contrast between 
the congregations he had been accustomed to in the West Riding, and the feeble cause 
he found in the Quaker town. Speedily, however, the prospect brightened, and it 
" begins to remind him of the branch he has left." 

The missionaries preached at places as far removed as Wolsingham and Stockton-on- 
Tees. The former w r as visited in response to an appeal personally made by Mr. W. 



Snowball and two others who, having heard of the work being done in South Durham, 
came over to Cockfield to see Mr. Laister. Mr. Snowball lived to become the Steward 
of the Wolsingham or Crook Circuit, as it afterwards got to be called, and from 1821 
to the day of his death, his house was always open to the ministers of the Connexion. 
In a similar way, Mr. Laister was invited to Witton-le-Wear by Messrs. Littlefair and 
Pyburn. Stockton was visited as early as May 13th, by S. Laister, who writes in his 
Journal: "I spoke at Stockton: a cold, hard place. No Society." .By March, 1822, 
Stockton and the places thereabout were formed into Hull's " Stockton Mission," and 
reported seventy members. Later, we shall find it formed the southern part of the 
Sunderland and Stockton Union Circuit. 

Meanwhile, Darlington itself then a small town of some 5,750 inhabitants was not 
overlooked. The society grew in numbers, and likewise, it would seem, in public 
favour, which has never been wanting in this town of progressive ideas. This may be 
inferred from the fact that, as early as October 16th, the foundation of the Queen 
Street Chapel was laid. At first, Mr. Laister and his colleague, TV. Evans, preached 
in the market-place, then a room in Tubwell Row was taken, and afterwards services 
were held in the Assembly Room of the Sun Inn, at the corner of Northgate, where 
most of the important meetings of the town were then held. But even this room soon 
became too small, and the young society found itself committed to chapel-building. 

Darlingtonian Primitives should do their best to keep green the memory of Samuel 
Laister, who died in their midst, probably a martyr to excessive toil. As a pioneer 
worker, he did much for Primitive Methodism in various parts, as our narrative has 
shown. S. Laister was not spared to see the opening of Queen Street Chapel on March 
3rd, 1822, when, according to Sykes' " Local Records," one thousand persons were present, 
and a collection amounting to 17 2s. taken. The preacher on the occasion was 
W. Clowes, who had been appointed to the Darlington Branch in January. But while 
Mr. Clowes pleached in the chapel, F. N. Jersey had an overflow congregation of two 
hundred persons outside the building which, until the erection of Greenbank Chapel in 
1879, under the superintendency of Rev. Hugh Gilmore, was to serve as the head of 
the Darlington Circuit. Mr. Clowes' station in Darlington was a short one, amounting 
to not more than eight Sundays, three of which were devoted to an evangelistic 
excursion to North Shields, which will shortly engage our attention. " My appoint- 
ments in the Darlington Branch," says Mr. Clowes, " were filled up while I was away, by 
F. N. Jersey, a sailor, who undertook to travel with me one quarter for nothing, that he 
might have my company. He, however, had but little of it, for I left him, and made 
this excursion to North Shields, and it has not been in vain." From first to last, 
Clowes gave three Sundays to Darlington town, including the Sunday of the chapel- 
opening. One of the remaining Sundays was devoted to Bishop Auckland, where, as 
was usual where Clowes was, something happened. This time it was a mishap. The 
props that supported the upper room in which the service was being held, being 
somewhat decayed, gave way, to the alarm of many though, providentially, to the hurt 
of none. The other available Sunday was given to Barnard Castle, February 24th, 
where he found a society of one hundred and twenty had been raised up. 

From this time Barnard Castle becomes an advanced post a fresh base for extensive 





missionary effort. Our attention must therefore be directed to this old-world town 
which has so much of interest, both for the lover of the antique and the lover of nature 
in her fairest aspects. How did we secure a footing in Barnard Castle ? 

While the Darlington friends Avere full of their new chapel project, and discussions 
on plans and specifications and ways and means were rife, Samuel Laister " thought they 
would make a push to take Barnard Castle." As usual, invitations had come, and Bro. 
W. Evans, a good prospector,* was commissioned " to see what kind of an opening there 
was." He therefore went and preached in the market-place, and announced that S. Laister 
would follow a fortnight after ; accordingly on a day in late August, S. Laister went to 
Barnard Castle and " spoke to many hundreds of well-behaved people," and formed 
a society of nine members. In two months the nine had' increased to eighty, and in 
four months, as we have seen, the number had risen to one hundred and twenty. 

We may here conveniently add a few further particulars as to the town of Barnard 
Castle's after history kindly supplied by Rev. B. Wild. "The Society first worshipped 
in a room in Thorngate, but afterwards removed into the Gray Lane. In 1822, 
a Mr. Hempson was stationed here, who by his indiscretions caused a division in the 
fold which considerably reduced the membership. Mr. W. Summersides was sent to 
superintend the Circuit in 1828, and under his ministry the numbers increased. The 
erection of a chapel now began to be discussed, and preparations for the building were 
forthwith commenced. 1829 saw the consummation of the work begun in 1828, and 
the chapel was opened by the Revs. W. Sanderson, G. Cosens, and J. Flesher, then the 
superintendent of the Circuit. In 1836, the side-galleries were put in, and in 1851, 
the vestry adjoining the chapel was built." 

Shortly after Mr. Clowes left the Darlington Branch, Barnard Castle was separated 
from Darlington and formed into a new branch called "The Barnard Castle and 
Wolsingham Branch of Hull Circuit." On the 18th March, Clowes left for the North 
Mission which Hull Circuit had agreed to take over from Hutton Eudby. Clowes, as 
the leading missionary, went on in advance, and was speedily followed by the brothers 
Nelson. F. N. Jersey had already opened Crook (January 30th), and formed a society 
and the very day Clowes left for the North, Jersey preached at Stanhope, it being 
"a fine starlight night." We also find him at Satley and Shotley Bridge. These 
references are significant as to the degree and direction in which the work was spreading. 
Still more significant is the fact that Clowes, on his way to North Shields, called at 
Wolsingham and Barnard Castle, evidently to oversee the North- Western Mission. 
He visited Satley "on the hills," Stanhope, where he found seventeen members, 
Hamsterley, Barnard Castle, and other places, and " directing Bro. Jersey to take up 
Westgate " he went on to his own special field. Westgate 'will soon be taken, but 
scarcely by F. N. Jersey, as he left almost immediately after for Silsden, where we 
have already seen him hard at work. 

From a minute in an old Barnard Castle Circuit-book it would almost seem as though 
Shotley Bridge had itself become a kind of sub-branch as early as 1822. The minute in 
question says : " That if Shotley Bridge does not see its way clear to send a missionary 
to Hexham during the next quarter, we will send one." This minute confirms the 

* See ante vol. ii. p. 86. 



interesting account already given by Mr. Petty, of the way in which Primitive Methodism 
was introduced into Hexham. As the account is circumstantial and evidently based on 
first-hand information, we reproduce it here, simply suggesting that by Weardale we are 
probably to understand the lower part of the dale. 

"A native of this town [Hexham] had been employed in his secular calling in 
Weardale, and, on visiting his parents at Hexham, he gave exciting accounts of 

the introduction of Primi- 
tive Methodism into that 
dale, and of the zealous 
and successful labours of 
the missionaries. His 
statements, together with 
the hymns and tunes he 
sang, excited considerable 
interest among his friends 
and acquaintances, many 
of whom expressed a desire 
to hear the preachers of 
this new denomination. 
And a Mr. John Gibson 
attended their religious 
services in connection 
with the opening of 
the Butchers' Hall, in 
Newcastle-on-Tyne, on 
October 20th, 1822, and 
invited the preachers to 
Hexham. As the preachers 
of Newcastle could not 
comply with his request, 
he applied to Shotley 
Bridge, in Barnard Castle 
branch, and a preacher 
from that town visited 
Hexham on the 26th of 
the same month. A place 
was provided for preach- 
ing, and a society of five 
members was formed in 
the evening. The bellman 
was sent through the town 

to announce that a Primitive Methodist Missionary would preach in the Old Kiln, 
on the Battle Hill, the following day. The excitement this announcement pro- 
duced was very great, and long before the time appointed for the service to 
commence the Old Kiln was crowded. The services of the day were very powerful ; 
the missionary preached with ' the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven ' ; many 
stout-hearted sinners trembled, and five more persons united with the infant cause. 
The Old Kiln was speedily fitted up so as to make it more convenient for public 
worship ; and despite serious persecutions, bricks and stones being often thrown 


The old Malt Kiln was entered through an opening on the left at the 
top of the street. 


by the ungodly, the good work continued to prosper, and many souls were turned 
to the Lord." 

Hexham Circuit comprised a goodly portion of South- Western Northumberland. 
The fact, thus barely stated, is quite enough to show that Hexham must have been one 
of the widest circuits in the Connexion, and when the characteristic physical features of 
this border district are recalled, one can readily understand that the circuit was wild 
and toilsome as well as wide. Such it was even in 1842, when the late C. C. McKechnie 
was one of its ministers. He had already travelled in the Ripon and Brompton Circuits, 
but neither of these in respect to width and wildness could stand comparison with 
Hexham, though Ripon was thirty-one miles by thirty, and Brompton was not much 
less in area, seeing that it took in the greater part of Cleveland. In 1842, Hexham 
Circuit stretched from Rothbury on the north to the borders of Allendale and to 
Derwent Head on the south, and from Greenhead on the west to Corbridge on the oast. 
There had, however, been a time in its history when the circuit covered even more 
ground than this ; for Blaydon and Shotley Bridge, Wickham and Swalwell, are on its 
plan of 1826. These and other places seem to have been grouped together to form 
the forgotten circuit of Winlaton, which stands on the Conference Minutes from 
1827 to 1829 inclusive. After this date, these places were taken over for a time 
by Newcastle, so that with the extinction of Winlaton as a sort of buffer circuit, 
Hexham again joined hands with Newcastle. In missionary enterprise, too, Hexham 
Circuit played no mean part in the early days, having at one time, as Rev. J. Lightfoot 
tells us, employed and sustained three missions Morpeth, Rothbury, and Jedburgh, in 
Roxburghshire. It was very largely through the influence of Squire Shafto, of 
Bavington of whom we shall have to speak that the Rothbury Mission was begun. 
John Coulson secured Joseph Spoor as the first missionary to " break up " this new 
ground. It was a rough beginning even for this muscular and intrepid Tynesider. So 
hard and apparently unproductive did he find the soil, that he lost heart, and one day 
took the road homeward, in a mood like that of Elijah when he fled from Jezebel ; but 
as he sat under his juniper tree, thinking, he took heart again and resolved to go back 
to his work. It was during this mission also that Spoor had his memorable encounter 
in Morpeth market-place with Billy Purvis, the once-time famous Newcastle showman. 
When the tug-of-war between the showman with his drum and horn, and Spoor with 
his praying and singing, had ended in a victory for the latter, Purvis shouted a parting 
salute through his speaking-trumpet : " Ah war'n thou think's thysel a clever fellow 
noo ! " However brought about, it is to be regretted that the Connexion has little to 
show for its early toils in Upper Coquetdale. It is true that in later years extension 
has taken place in North-Eastern Northumberland, but we have lost hold of the less 
populous and more rugged interior of the county. 

When, in 1824, Hexham appeared as one of the circuits of the newly-formed 
Sunderland District, it abutted on Carlisle Circuit, which also formed one of the first 
circuits of the district. Therefore, in following the trend of evangelisation, we have 
now to inquire how we came to get a footing in Carlisle. The story cannot be told 

* (pp. 186-7). 


without reference to a special independent mission, which Hull Circuit began in May, 
1822, when, acting upon instructions from head-quarters, F. N. Jersey set out from 
Silsden on a mission to Kendal, in Westmoreland, and its neighbourhood. This 
mission concerns us here chiefly because one of its indirect results was the establishment 
of a cause in Carlisle, and also, secondarily, because of the fierce persecution the 
missionary met with in prosecuting his mission. Jersey laboured hard, and not 
altogether in vain. Many of the people heard him gladly one good Quaker at 
Sedburgh saying : " The days of John Wesley are come again." An aged woman, near 
Kendal, who had received spiritual benefit, was so delighted with the small hymn-book 
she had got, that she walked to Carlisle, some forty-four miles, to show her treasure to 
her relative, Mr. Boothman, and to tell him of that other treasure of inward peace she 
had gained. Mr. Boothman was deeply interested in what was told him. He was 
evidently another of those " Revivalists " sympathisers with aggressive Christian 
work who welcomed our advent into their neighbourhood. He requested his son-in- 
law, Mr. Johnson, to accompany his aunt to Kendal and make full inquiry as to the 
doctrines, polity, and practice of the new community. Mr. Johnson returned, well 
satisfied with the result of his inquiries, and bearing a copy of the rules of the society. 
The issue was that these two resolved to apply for a missionary ; open-air preaching was 
at once begun, and a society formed. Such was the link of connection between the 
Kendal Mission and the establishment of our cause in Carlisle. At this point we return 
for a moment to follow F. X. Jersey, who from Kendal went in March, 1823, to open 
Ulverstone, Broughton, Dalton, and other places in the Furness district. Here the 
ground was flintier than at Kendal. At Ulverstone he thus bemoans himself : " What 
a hardened, wretched place I am stationed in ! " At Dalton he writes : " This is the 
hardest place that ever I was in. In this town they have a market every Sunday, 
during the harvest, for the purpose of hiring, and fight and get drunk." While holding 
a service at the Market Cross at Dalton, he was called upon to face a storm worse than 
any he had met with at sea. Three horns and a watchman's rattle made a din in his 
ears while he tried to sing and pray, and then he sprang from his knees and shouted : 
" Glory to Jesus ! I can praise Thee amidst all the din of hell." The end of it was, 
that he was haled before two magistrates and committed to Lancaster Castle for four 
months. The sentence heard, he was leaving the room when the lawyer said : 
"Mr. Jersey, remember you'll have to pay all your expenses to Lancaster Castle." 
"Indeed, sir," replied Jersey, "I'm very glad of that, because if that be the case I shall 
never get there, for I'll never pay a farthing." "Well," said the man of law, "that 
will not keep you out of the castle. We will get you there." When he was lying in 
the castle, like the veriest rogue and vagabond, Mr. G. Herod, who was then labouring 
in the town, showed him no little kindness, and was allowed to take him food. One 
old lady, good soul ! took the prisoner a pillow. We think we can see her on " kindly 
offices intent," wending her way with the precious burden under her arm. Jersey, how- 
ever, did not serve out his full time : on receiving instructions from the Hull authorities, 
who were much concerned at the incident, he at last consented to give bail, and was 
liberated after eighteen days' confinement. He preached that night at Lancaster, next 
day went on to Kendal, and the day after called at Ulverstone to " see after his little 


flock." Soon we shall find him taking part in the great revival in Weardale. Peace 
to F. N. Jersey's memory ! He was a capital evangelist, but a poor administrator. 
Rough mission-work he did well ; but he was ill-adapted to govern a large circuit like 
Nottingham, to which he was sent in 1834. Trouble overtook him. His peace was 
disturbed, and his usefulness dwindled. He became a Baptist minister, and finally 
emigrated to America. As for Kendal Mission, though in 1823 it reported one hundred 
and eighty-nine members, it was for a time abandoned, probably because its retention 
was found to be financially burdensome. Rev. R. Cordingley, however, recommenced 
the mission in 1829. Penrith was taken up as a mission by Hull, and united to Kendal 
in 1831. Afterwards Kendal became a mission of Barnard Castle Circuit, and so 
continued until it attained circuit independence in 1857, while Penrith became a branch 
of Alston, until it, too, became a circuit in 1876. After all its vicissitudes, Kendal 
Mission was privileged to rear and become the training-ground of John Taylor and his 
fellow-apprentice, and almost foster-brother, John Atkinson, who was destined to be one 
of the men of ^mark and likelihood ' of the middle and later periods of the Connexion's 
history. John Atkinson was converted under a sermon preached at Staveley by Edward 
Almond in 1851. He soon came on the plan, and was engaged in preaching almost 
every Sunday, sometimes walking thirty miles to a single appointment. He entered the 
ministry in 1855, and the first four years of that ministry were spent in the Shotley 
Bridge and Wolsingham Circuits, that owed their origin to Hull's North- Western 
Mission. Rev. C. C. McKechnie was John Atkinson's superintendent at Wolsingham, 
and it is interesting to note that at their very first interview he was struck Avith 
his "uncommon force of mind/' and already discerned that there were "intellectual 
potentialities in him such as he had rarely met with." 

Returning to Carlisle : Some few weeks after a missionary had been applied for, 
Mr. Clowes made his way across the country from the North Mission and began 
a month's successful labours in Carlisle and places adjacent thereto. His first services 
were held at Brampton on November 1st, 1822, where the house of Mr. William 
Lawson our Connexional pioneer in Canada was placed at his disposal for the 
holding of a prayer meeting.* Here also resided John and Nancy Maughan, "distin- 
guished and never-failing friends of the cause." At the time of their death, in 1831, 
Mrs. Boothman and Mrs. Maughan are spoken of as being the oldest members in the 
Carlisle Circuit. On examination, Clowes found fifty-five adherents at Carlisle and 
twenty-five at Brampton. He organised the societies, appointing leaders and other 
officers, and formed a small society at Little Corby. The services at Carlisle were held 
in Mr. Boothman's hat-warehouse. A burlesque advertisement inserted in the local 
newspaper apprising the public "that a collection would be made to support some 
fellows who had gone mad, like the Prince of Denmark," drew a large and disorderly 
multitude together ; but lampoons were as ineffectual as Mrs. Partington's mop to stay 
the progress of the work. Nor did Mr. Clowes limit his labours to the holding of 
public religious services, but he and Mr. Johnson, before mentioned, visited in the city 
from house to house. Few men could do so much work in little time as Mr. Clowes, 

* For portrait and further reference see vol. i. p. 438. 


and when, on December 3rd, he set out, one hundred and eighty miles, to attend the 
Hull Quarterly Meeting, he penned certain reflections which show that his month's 
mission in Cumberland had, as usual, been productive. "The ground," he writes, 
" is all broken up between Hull and Carlisle. Where it will go to next I cannot 
tell. . . . During this quarter the ground has been broken up from Newcastle 
to Carlisle. Our circuit extends from Carlisle in Cumberland to Spurn Point in 
Holderness, an extent of more than two hundred mile^. What is the breadth of the 
circuit I cannot tell ; it branches off various ways. From Carlisle the work seems to 
be opening two ways ; one to Whitehaven, the other to Gretna Green in Scotland." 

From this point the progress made by Carlisle Mission soon made into a branch 
was so steady and encouraging as to justify its being made into a circuit. This was 
done in December, 1823, and in 1824 Carlisle duly appeared on the list of the stations 
of the newly-formed Sunderland District. Thus, in 1824, the Carlisle and Hexham 
Circuits abutted on each other, as did also Hexham and Newcastle. In the Magazine 
for March, 1825, we find a communication, signed J. B. [John Branfoot] and J. J. 
[James Johnson?], Sec., still reporting progress, financial and numerical, in the most 
northerly circuit of the Connexion. "That part of our circuit," the communique goes 
on to say, " is doing particularly well which lies on the Scottish borders. We preach 
at two or three places within two or three miles of Scotland. On these the cloud of 
God's presence particularly rests, and it appears a* if it would move into Scotland. But 
this is with the Lord. However, some who out of Scotland have come to hear, are 
saying, ' Come over and help us.' Others of them who have got converted among us, 
and have joined us, are saying, ' Oh, that you would visit our native land.' " 

It was not long before the cloudy pillar did move Scotland way. Three months 
after Messrs. Oliver and Clewer walked from Sunderland to open their mission in 
Edinburgh, Carlisle Circuit, whose superintendent was then John Coulson, sent James 
Johnson whom we take to have been the Mr. Johnson already several times referred 
to to begin a mission in Glasgow, July 13th, 1826. Open-air services were held in 
various " conspicuous places " in the big city, and by October one hundred persons had 
united in Church fellowship, and a preaching-room, capable of accommodating seven 
hundred persons, had been secured. The mission, thus unobtrusively begun in the 
commercial capital of Scotland, seems to have made quiet headway, and to have been 
largely self-sustaining. Glasgow appears on the stations of the Sunderland District for 
the first time in 1829. Glasgow soon in its turn established a cause in Paisley, and, 
ere long, a room connected with the old Abbey Buildings, called the Philosophical Hall, 
was taken for services, and a minister was resident in the town. Though Paisley was 
attached to Glasgow Circuit, and received considerable help therefrom, it would seem 
that Carlisle had a hand in the development, if not in the first establishment, of our 
cause in Paisley, since the Rev. John Lightfoot, writing as the superintendent of 
Carlisle in 1831, observes : "The circuit considerably improved in its finances, so as to 
be able to send a missionary to Paisley." 

In the year 1834 there was a youth living at Paisley who is of some account to this 
history. The names he bore Colin Campbell McKechnie betokened the Highland 
clan to which he belonged. His eldest brother, Daniel, had been converted amongst 



the Primitives, and was a sort of factotum in the little church leader, local preacher, 
steward, superintendent of the Sunday school, and what not. But Daniel had now 
a home of his own, and the McKechnies were nominally, at any rate, adherents of the 
Kirk. But, ) robably through his brother's agency, Bella McNair 
was servant in the household, and in the providence of God 
she was used to attach this youth, whom high destinies awaited, 
to Primitive Methodism. If it be asked how this was done, 
we answer: the small hymn-book was a chief factor in the 
process. The early hymns were a powerful instrument of propa- 
gandism all the more powerful because, as in this case, it could 
be employed in cottage or workshop as well as on village-green 
or market-place. That Mr. McKechnie was sung into the kingdom 
seems hardly too strong a way of putting it, if we may judge by 
his own words : 

" Bella McNair was a thorough Primitive, devout, zealous, and with an excellent 
voice for singing, which she freely used. Aware of her rare gift of song, and of 
its power as an instrument of usefulness, she often I might almost say she 
incessantly, used it in singing the charming hymns so commonly sung by our 
people in those days. Some of them were very touching, so at least I thought and 
felt. They acted upon my religious nature like the quickening influence of spring> 
and evoked in my heart strong yearnings after God and goodness. I was led to 
talk to Bella about her pretty hymns, and the kirk to which she belonged, and she 
very warmly and earnestly invited me to the services." 

When Colin went for the first time to Sunday school he was warmly received and 
felt himself in a new world. After a mental struggle, he received the sense of pardon 
and joined the Church. While yet in his early teens he was made leader and local 
preacher, and in the year Paisley became a circuit 1838 began his ministry at Ripon, 
where we have already seen him. Those who are interested in tracing the strange 
interdependence of events, may see how the aged woman, who carried the small hymn- 
book from Kenoal to Carlisle, was an essential link in a " peculiar chain of providence," 
which reached to Glasgow and Paisley, and back again to Wdsingham, where C. C. 
McKechnie and John Atkinson met as colleagues on ground won by the North- West 
Mission. Had that link been wanting ! but it is needless to speculate. With the 
plain facts of history before us, the Kendal Mission can hardly be pronounced a failure 
though the history-books may say it was since, as one of its direct and indirect results, 
two such shapers of the old Sunderland District were brought together. 

Coming back to the further missionary efforts put forth by Carlisle Circuit, reference 
may be made to Wigton, now the head of a circuit, which was first missioned by Mary 
Porteus on August 5th, 1831. On that date she preached at the Market Cross, as 
John Wesley had done before her. The day before she undertook this task, she had 
read, at Bothel, an account of Wesley's service at the Cross, and the thought that she 
a frail woman was about to attempt what that great and gifted man had done, pressed 
upon her as she went forward to discharge her trying duty. On September 2nd she 
took her stand at the Cross again, but when next she went, in November, she found 
some kind friend had taken a large schoolroom for the services. 


Even before the close of 1822, W. Clowes had noted that Primitive Methodism was 
tending in the direction of Whitehaven. Shortly after this, Messrs. Summersides and 
Johnson visited this town, thirty-eight miles from Carlisle. Then Clowes himself, in 
August, 1823, came on the ground and began a campaign in this district, which lasted 
until November 9th. He visited Harrington, Cleator, Workington, Parton, Cockermouth, 
St. Bees, and other places. As usual, there was no lack of incidents in this campaign. 
At Cleator an old man who was hearing him, exclaimed -. " Why, 1 never heard such 
a fool in my life ! " The preacher retorted that the remark was not original, for that 
precisely the same thing had been said of Noah by people who changed their mind 
when the flood came ; but all too late. At St. Bees he had as one of the fruits of his 
mission, David Beattie, a native of Dumfriesshire. Beattie did good service as a minister 
until his lamented death in 1839. He was one of the earliest of that small but 
distinguished band which Scotland has furnished to our ministry. At this time, too, 
a camp meeting was held on Harris Moor, near Whitehaven, which, from being the 
first of its kind ever held in the district, made a stir. At this camp meeting a number 
of partially intoxicated Papists interrupted the service, whereupon Clowes transfixed 
them with his eye, and solemnly warned them that, ere twenty-four hours should pass, 
many of them might be hurried into eternity. And it was so ; for by an explosion in 
the pit. which occurred next day, many of these disturbers lost their lives. This 
startling event so alarmed Hugh Campbell, that he, with others, was led to join the 
society. This truly honest man began his ministerial labours at Hexham in 1830. 
Another of Clowes' Whitehaven converts was Andrew Sharpe, a man of local note on 
account of his physical prowess. John Sharpe, his grandson, entered the ministry in 
1848 ; went out to Australia in 1855, where, until 1876, he did splendid service. "He 
was a fine specimen of the strong Cumbrian character : a splendid borderer of clear and 
decided convictions, held with Spartan firmness ; " a man of vigorous and well-stored 
mind. After his retirement he settled at Hensingham, where he passed away, May 
i>7th, 1895. 

As Whitehaven remained a branch of Hull Circuit for so many years, it was from 
time to time privileged with the labours of most of the best-known ministers of that 
circuit. John Garner and John Oxtoby were here together during the September 
quarter of 1824. Despite the trouble caused by a deposed minister, who remained on 
the station after his deposition and tried to foment mischief, the work still rolled on. 
" NVe had," says Mr. Garner, " a great and powerful work, and we took a large church 
to worship in called Mount Pleasant Church." It had been built for the worship of the 
Episcopal Church, but its consecration being refused, it fell into the hands of Dissenters, 
apparently not one iota the worse for the lack. For more than thirty years Mount 
Pleasant Church was used by Primitive Methodists for the purposes of public worship. 

Whitehaven was made an independent station in 1840, so that by the end of the first 
period we have, as the development of the Kendal, Carlisle, and Whitehaven Missions, 
the nucleus of the present Carlisle and Whitehaven District, with, however, the addition 
of Alston, Brough, and Haltwhistle, these being the outcome of Hull's North- Western 
Mission. Since 1842, consolidation has gone on apace in West Cumberland. Maryport 
was made from Whitehaven in 1862, and Workington in 1884; and Cockermouth from 
Maryport in 1893. 



One is surprised to find that in 1832 Westgate and Alston had actually more members 
than the Hull home-branch itself. In a tabular report of that year of the various 
branches of Hull Circuit, "Westgate and Alston" are credited with 751 members, 
while Hull has 631, and Driffield 469. It confirms what has already been stated as to 
Hull's retention of a branch long after it was strong enough to stand alone. It was 
" a long cry " from Westgate to Hull, and yet it is Hull Quarterly Meeting which, in 
1831, by resolution, makes George Race and William Lonsdale exhorters ! Though, 
therefore, Westgate and Alston were not made circuits until 1834 and 1835 respectively, 
they had long been numerically powerful, and not wanting in officials who knew their 
own mind, and had a mind to know. 

These two strong branches were molten and cast in the fire of a great revival 
a revival, take it for all in all, greater perhaps than any we have thus far had to 
chronicle. And, what is still more remarkable, great revivals have, at ever recurring 

intervals, swept over Weardale, 
Allendale, Alston Moor, and Cum- 
berland, one or two of which we 
may glance at before closing this 
section. As insurance offices speak 
of a " conflagration area," so the 
districts just named, and especially 
the dales, may almost be termed "the 
revival area." " Well, then, the 
people who inhabit those dales must 
certainly be of a highly emotional 
temperament, easily stirred to excite- 
ment, and perhaps just as easily 
relapsing into indifference." No, 
WESTGATE CHAPEL AND SCHOOLS. n o ; the reader has quite missed 

the mark; he has not pierced the centre of the sufficient reason. Never was truer 
word written of the Northmen, and especially of the Dalesmen, than that in which 
the Rev. J. Wenn describes them as " anthracite in temperament." " Northerners," 
he continues, "are not exactly comparable to carpenters' shavings, soon alight and 
quickly extinguished ; rather do they resemble anthracite in the slowness of its com- 
bustion and the retention of its heat . . . capable of sustained religious fervour 
could they but once be kindled." * 

The first great Weardale Revival, alike in its inception and progress, illustrates the 
truth of these remarks. It was a work of time, and a work requiring infinite patience, 
to kindle the inhabitants of the upper part of the dale, but, when once they were 
kindled, the fire burned with a glowing intensity and spread amain. By common 
consent Thomas Batty is acknowledged to have been the "Apostle of Weardale." 
This does not mean that he was the pioneer missionary of the Connexion in the dale ; 

* Rev. J. Wenn's MSS. Kindly lent. 


for he was not. That honour probably belongs to George Lazenby, who is said to have 
preached the first sermon at Stanhope in a joiner's shop in October, 1821, and he was 
speedily followed by others. Xor does the word "apostle," accorded to Thomas Batty, 
prejudice the claim of Jane Ansdale, F. N. Jersey, Anthony Race, and others, to have 
taken a foremost part in the movement. What makes the title " apostle " as applied to 
him so eminently appropriate is the fact that, in the preparatory stages and in the 
conduct of the revival, we see concentrated and embodied in Thomas Batty the very 
spirit of the revival. It would be difficult to find anywhere a more moving picture of 
what we understand by "travailing in birth for souls" than the picture Batty has 
drawn of himself in his Journals of the time. 

When Thomas Batty came to Barnard Castle Branch from Silsden in the autumn of 
1822, others had already been some time at work in the dale, which stretches, some 


Home of the Boyhood of Kev. J. Watsou, D.D. 

fifteen miles, from Lanehead to Frosterley. At Westgate, and in the lower part of the 
dale, the people had been in a measure receptive of the word from the very first. 
Jane Ansdale's ministrations hereabout had proved acceptable, and a notable convert 
had already been won in the person of J. Dover Muschamp, a man of some standing in 
the dale. Curiosity drew him to Westgate to hear Jane Ansdale, who, because of the 
unfavourable weather, preached in the Wesleyan Chapel, kindly lent for the occasion. 
As he listened, the arrow of conviction was lodged, and he went away stricken and 
mourning. Not for some time, however, did he find peace not even though he 
attended a camp meeting at Stanhope, and stood bare-headed under the hot sun listening 
to the word. But when he had retired to his room for the night, healing and forgiveness 
were experienced, and at once Mr. and Mrs. Muschamp gave themselves heart and soul 
to the new cause. But though this conversion was a notable, and by no means 


a solitary one in the neighbourhood, yet it is evident that no extraordinary work had as 
yet begun. Figures, and Thomas Hatty's own explicit statements, show this. 

Meanwhile, the burthen pressed heavily on Mr. Batty. How he did labour ! And 
yet it seemed to him he was spending his strength for nought. Crowds and often 
weeping crowds attended the services, " but they could not be got to join the society." 
They let hearing and weeping suffice. He speaks of one unforgettable night, when he 
was returning from an apparently fruitless service at Ireshopeburn. As he waded 
through the snow and water and slush, his depression was extreme, and almost 
insupportable. He could not talk to his companion; he "could only sigh and groan 
and weep." His tell-tale countenance seemed to say, " I am the man that hath seen 
affliction,'' and that sad countenance was long remembered in the dale. The sequel of 
this journey is worth telling in Thomas Batty's own words, only that we may premise 
that Westgate was Batty's destination, and that his home was to be with Joseph 
Walton, " who was a class-leader and a mighty labourer in prayer." 

"When I arrived at Joseph Walton's I was so sorrowful that I could scarce eat 
any supper. Joseph and I entered into some conversation on the subject that 
distressed me. I stated to him that if we could not succeed soon, I thought we 
should be obliged to leave and go to some other people, among whom we should 
probably do better. He said : 'Nay, don't do so ; try a little longer.' I replied : 
' Well, I have been at the far end before now, and when I got to the end the Lord 
began to work, and He can do so again.' This conversation cheered and revived 
my spirits, and my faith began to rise. Praise the Lord." 

When some little time after this, the Ireshopeburn preaching-house was closed to 
them, Batty did indeed seem to have ''reached the far end." But Anthony Race said ' 
"If the devil shuts one door, the Lord will open two." And so it literally came to 
pass. Of the two houses now offered them, they chose the better one for their purpose, 
and there, in March, 1823, while Batty was preaching, a man fell to the ground. That 
nignt a small society was formed, and the revival began, which swept the dale and led 
Mr. Muschamp to say exultantly : " I think all the people in Weardale are going to be 

The laws which govern the origin and course of great revivals are obscure and 
difficult to trace. It is perhaps impossible to say how far Thomas Batty's mental 
distress was really "travail of soul" the very birth -throes of the revival, and how far 
it was the result of imperfect knowledge of the Weardale type of character, and 
therefore uncalled for. It was reserved for an observant toll-gate keeper to hint that 
Thomas Batty did not understand the anthracite temperament of the dalesmen as well 
as he understood it, and to give him advice, which he followed with advantage. 

" I lodged with a friendly man one night, a little after this had happened, who 
kept a toll-gate in the dale, between St. John's Chapel and Prize. This man said 
to me on the following morning : ' If you will come and preach about here every 
night for a week, you will soon have a hundred people in society.' I replied ; 
'Well, if I thought so, I would soon do that.' The man said : 'I am sure of it : the 
whole country is under convictions. You do not know the people as well as I do ; 
they often stop and talk with me at the gate. I hear what they say about ' the 



Ranters,' and I am sure if you would come and preach every night for a week, you 
would soon have a hundred souls.' This toll-gate keeper was not at that time 
converted, neither did he make any profession of religion ; but he was an open- 
hearted, well-disposed man, and had taken a liking to our cause. As early as 
possible, I got my regular appointments supplied by a preacher whom Hull 
quarter-day sent us. He entered into my labours as appointed on the plan, and 
I enlarged our borders by missioning entirely new ground. But I previously 
attended to the advice of my friend, and preached about his neighbourhood every 
night for a week : and at the quarter's end we had just added one hundred souls." 
(Memoir of Thomas Batty, pp. 54-5.) 

The irrefragable evidence of the numerical returns for successive quarters remains to 


confirm Mr. Batty's statements, and to witness to the magnitude of the revival. In 
March, 1823, when the revival began, the membership of the branch was 219; in 
June, 308 ; in September, 625 ; in December, 846, when there were five preachers on 
the ground. There is a blessed sameness in the personal and more far-reaching effects 
wrought by every great revival such as that which affected Weardale. On these we 
need not dwell. But the revival was not without its incidents of a less familiar, and 
some of even a novel, kind. Amongst the latter must be reckoned the eagerness for 
hearing the gospel, which, as at Wellshope, led the people to economise every inch of 
available space by removing all the tables and chairs from the room except one chair, 
on which the preacher stood, and then some stalwart miner would come forward and 



stand with his back to the preacher, so that he the preacher might find support by 
resting his arms on the man's shoulders ! There was competition for the honour of 
fulfilling this office ; and who shall say that such a living reading-desk was not as 
pleasing in God's sight as the eagle lectern of polished brass 1 

Before the close of 1823 the Revival had spread to Nenthead. The missionaries had 
been urged to extend their labours to this district, and, in response, Anthony Race is 
said to have crossed over and preached at Nenthead for the first time on the Lord's 
day, March 23rd, 1823. Anthony Race was the grandfather of the late George Race, 
sen. He had been a Wesley an local preacher, and as such had taken long journeys 
sometimes walking as far as Durham, Hexham, Haydonbridge, and Appleby in 
Westmoreland. Anthony Race entered the ministry this same year 1823 but his 
term of service was short, as he died between the Conferences of 1828 and 1829. 
Thomas Batty soon followed his colleagues to Nenthead and Garrigill. By some they 
were regarded with suspicion as " outlandish men," or Political Radical Reformers under 
another name, but the generality of the people waited eagerly on their ministrations 
and wanted to pay for them by taking up a collection ! Batty promised them they 
should have the opportunity of showing their gratitude on the occasion of his next 
visit, when the quarterly collection would be due. On this visit, Mr. Batty took his 
stand on a flag by the door of Mr. Isaac Hornsby, an official of the lead-works. On 
that flag Mr. Wesley had once stood to preach. When the collection was named each 
man sought his pocket, and it was as though a body of drilled troops were executing 
a military movement at the word of command. The precision with which the thing 
was done was such as to draw forth the admiration of the ex-man-of-war's-man. 
Although it was a week-night, three pounds were taken up at that collection. In six 
months one hundred members had been enrolled at Nenthead. 

At this point, Westgate was detached from Barnard Castle to become a separate 
branch of Hull Circuit, with John Hewson as its superintendent, and G. W. Armitage, 
a youthful but acceptable preacher, as its junior minister. When to these was added 
John Oxtoby, who in September, 1824, walked from Whitehaven to Westgate, the 
revival, which had somewhat flagged, gained fresh impetus. The sanctification of believers 
as a definite work of grace was a prominent phase of the revival 
at this stage, as well as the conversion of sinners. During these 
months very remarkable scenes were witnessed in the Dales. 
Of these scenes we get glimpses in the full Journals of Messrs. 
Oxtoby and Armitage, and the late Rev. W. Dent has also supplied 
us with some reminiscences of what he himself saw and took part 
in. Mr. Dent was converted at Westgate in 1823, entered the 
ministry in 1827, and travelled thirty-three years with great 
acceptance. After his retirement he settled in Newcastle-on-Tyne, 
where his spare form, ascetic, spiritual looking face, and his quick 
REV. w. DENT. bodily movements, which at once responded to and registered the 
feeling within, made him a familiar figure to our churches. Mr. Dent had a wide 
acquaintance with Methodist theology, and was an able exponent and defender of the 
doctrine of Christian perfection. He died March 16th, 1864. Mr. Dent was a keen 


observer of the phenomena of Oxtoby's revival, and his remarks on the " fallings " 
which were so noteworthy a feature of that revival are worth preserving : 

"There Avere many cases of prostration in connection with that great work. 
I have seen more than fifteen at one meeting, some of whom were sober-minded 
Christians, as humble as they were earnest. And what was very observable, there 
was nothing in the voice or manner of the preacher to account for such effects ; no 
vociferation, no highly impassioned address. He (J. Oxtoby) stood as steadily, 
and talked as calmly, as I ever witnessed any one do. But he was fully in the 
faith clothed with salvation ; having in many instances, got to know substantially 
in his closet what ivas about to take place in the great congregation. He did not take 
a falling down as a certain proof of the obtaining of entire sanctificatioii ; but 
ascribed much to physical causes to nervous weakness. I do not recollect that 
there were any cases of the kind proved to be hypocritical mimicry. It was 
wonderful how some persons so affected were preserved from physical harm. 
I remember seeing men fall suddenly backwards on stone flags without being hurt, 
and on one occasion, in a dwelling-house, a man fell against the fire-place, the fire 
burning at the time, without being injured." 

In September, 1825, John Garner became superintendent of Westgate Branch; and 
now a wave of the great revival, which may be said to have been going on ever since 
March, 1823, reached Alston and Allendale. Allenheads, Nenthead and Garrigill are 
names found in the early books of Barnard Castle Branch. They had been visited by 
its missionaries, as we have seen, and already had shared in the revival. But the books 
make no mention of Alston. That place, there is reason to believe, as well as lower 
Allendale, was first visited by missionaries from Hexham. Now, however, in the 
autumn of 1825, they are included within the area of Westgate Branch as the following 
report of the progress of the revival, taken from the Journal of John Garner, shows : 

December 19th, 1825. " I went to Alston, and was glad to hear that one hundred 
and upwards had united with our Society within the last three months, and that 
the work of sanctification had been going on all the time. But this glorious, 
extraordinary and important work, is not confined to Alston. It has spread 
through the whole branch. According to my best calculation, I think two 
hundred and fifty, at least, have been converted to God, 
within the time above specified. The Lord is extending our 
borders, and opening our way in Alston-Moor, and East and 
West Allendale. Truly, these are the days of the Son of 
Man with power, and we are willing to hope for greater things 
than these ; for nothing is too hard for the Lord." 

A year after this the revival had not spent its force. Joseph 
Grieves had come to the Westgate and Alston Branch in June, 
1826. He himself was a trophy of the revival, having been 
delivered from "drunkenness, profane swearing, and poaching," 
by his signal conversion at a lovefeast at Westgate in May, 
1824. Grieves was at Alston on January 21st, 1827, where he 

tells of holding a service by invitation in a, farmer's house, at which service several 
were converted, including the farmer himself, who had taken refuge in his own dairy, 




where Grieves found him on his knees crying for mercy. "Twenty-five joined the 
society ; and a publican declared that the revival had lost him a pound a week." 

Our mention of the name of Joseph Grieves leads us to mark yet another sweep of 
the revival movement, which resulted in planting our Church in Upper Teesdale and 
the Eden Valley, thus geographically rounding off the North- West Mission. Occasional 
visits had been made by the missionaries to the neighbourhood before the conversion of 
Joseph Grieves, who lived at Aukside, near Middleton : but " the harvest was great 
and the labourers were few," and no provision could as yet be made for Sunday services. 
Characteristically, therefore, Grieves set to work himself. He established a series of 
house prayer-meetings, to which the people flocked, curious to learn how these former 


ringleaders in wickedness would pray. Under this humble agency a revival began, and 
one of its earliest gains was Mr. John Leekley, afterwards the founder of Primitive 
Methodism in the Western States of America, Now a recognised exhorter, Mr. Grieves, 
along with Messrs. Leekley, Rain, and Collinsou, missioned Bowlees, Hanvood, Forest, 
and other places in Upper Teesdale, where societies were established which continue to 
this day. After giving such indications of zeal and courage, we need hardly be surprised 
that, in March, 1826, Hull Quarterly Meeting should appoint Mr. Grieves to begin his 
labours as a travelling-preacher in Barnard Castle Branch. He laboured for thirty-eight 
years, and the impression the Rev. Philip Pugh's ably-written memoir leaves on the 


mind of the reader is, that our Church has had few men who have served its interests 
more faithfully and successfully than did this revival-born dalesman. 

And now, as the formation of the Westgate Branch set Thomas Batty at liberty, the 
Barnard Castle Branch sought compensation for its diminished territory and reduced 
membership, by sending Mr. Batty to mission Brough in Westmoreland and other 
places in the Eden Valley. He set out from Middleton on his journey of fifteen miles, 
commended to the grace of God by his kindly entertainers. He had a long and 
toilsome journey before him ; but, when he stood on the last eminence and looked down 
on the fair valley beneath, with the Eden like a ribbon of silver winding through, he 
was not too tired or too much engrossed with the duty that lay before him, to 
'feast his eyes with the beautiful scenery, and to rejoice at the goodness of God 
to man." 

The gentry of Brough were hostile ; the generality, and especially the common 
people, heard him gladly. Mr. Batty, on that first evening, took his stand on a horse- 
block before a public-house, which the landlady had obligingly allowed him to use, adding, 
as she consented, the gracious remark, " that she could have no objection to anything 
that was good." The bellman's announcement had drawn together a curious crowd, and 
Batty was suffered to preach without molestation. He slept at Brough Sowerby, where 
a society was soon formed, and at Brough a friendly farmer lent his barn for services. 
Meanwhile, the Committee at Hull had officially appointed Messrs. Batty and Thomas 
Webb to this new mission, and processioning and out-door preaching became the order 
of the day. The " gentry " now thought it time to bestir themselves. Two of them 
invaded the barn, where a prayer meeting was being held, and irreverently discussed, 
to their own discomfiture, the legal bearings of the service they were interrupting. 
The rumour went that if the preacher persisted in holding a service at the Cross the 
next Sunday, as he had announced he would do, he was to be pulled down. He was 
not to be intimidated. A strong band from Brough Sowerby and Kirby Stephen 
body-guarded Batty as he preached his fourth sermon that day, and the " gentry " 
watched the proceedings from the outskirts of the congregation. As they crossed the 
green to the barn for their prayer meeting, Mr. Batty was followed, and asked to show 
his license. Under protest, the license was produced and handed round, and scrutinised 
and fingered as though it had been a bank-note of doubtful antecedents and value. 
" Was it counterfeit or genuine 1 If good for Yorkshire did it hold good for Westmore- 
land?" "For all England," said Mr. Batty. At this point the ire of a respectable 
tradesman of the town was roused by this high handed procedure. Said he, hotly : 
" You think to run them down, a parcel of you ! You think they are poor people, and 
cannot stand up for themselves ; but I have plenty of money, and I'll back them." 
And the tradesman was as good as his word. Next morning the "gentry" met at the 
head inn to consult as to what should next be done in the present serious state of 
affairs. The plan they hit upon was to send the bellman round to proclaim as follows : 
'' This is to give notice, that a vestry meeting will be held this evening at seven o'clock 
to put down all midnight revelling and ranting." When the bellman had "cried" the 
town, another commission awaited him. The respectable tradesman aforesaid, with the 
aid of his brother and sundry Acts of Parliament, drew up a counter-proclamation, 



which the bellman went round the town again to cry. It ran as follows : " '1 his is to 
give notice, that the laws against tippling and riotous midnight revels at public-houses, 

gambling, buying and selling, and other 
evil practices on the Sabbath Day, 
cursing and swearing, and other laws 
for suppressing vice and immorality, 
will be put in force, and notice duly 
given to churchwardens and constables 
who, in case of neglect, will be pre- 
sented at the Bishop's Court or Quarter 
Sessions." The townsfolk listened, 
then laughed and said: "That's right; 
that's right ! " Thus, so to say, fizzled 
out amid laughter this fussy, spit-fire 

OLD PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL AND BROUGH CASTLE. attempfc ()n the part o f t he " gentry " 

to frighten the missionary and keep Primitive Methodism out of Brough ; and the 
story is told here because this would-be persecution was the last instance of its kind 
we shall meet with so far north, and because this persecution that failed was the 
precursor of a revival such as we have been describing, of which, indeed, it was part 
and the continuation. "A glorious work," says Mr. Batty, "broke out immediately, 
and in a fortnight we added thirty-eight souls to our society ; and the work was 
both genuine and deep. Some of the most wicked characters, and others less so, were 
brought to the knowledge of the truth: "And there was great joy in that town." 
Mr. Batty adds, that the old gentleman who allowed the use of his barn for services 
was himself one of the converts. The first chapel, which long stood on the banks of 
the Augill, and under the shadow of 
the old castle, was built on a site of 
land given by him. In 1877, a new 
chapel was built, which unfortunately 
was burnt down three yearsafter; but 
the society energetically set about the 
work of restoration, and since that 
time a good school and class-rooms 
have been added. Brough has been 
an independent circuit since 1849. 

Thus the churches around these 
northern hills and dales were estab 
lished by revivals, and again and 
again have these same churches been 
replenished and refreshed by similar 
visitations. No wonder that, in the 
localities thus visited, these bygone revivals should be often talked of. When 
such is the case, we are told it is customary for the speaker to distinguish the 
particular revival -he wishes to recall, by attaching to it the name of the person 






who, under God, was the chief agent in carrying it forward. Thus they will 
speak of Batty's or Oxtoby's revival, of McKeehnie's or Peter Clarke's the list 
is a long one. We can but barely allude to one or two of these revivals which 
were after the original type. There was the 
Stanhope revival of 1851-2, which Rev. 
C. C. Mclvechnie described in the Magazine 
at the time a revival which he says " has 
transformed the character of our little church. 
It is no longer weak, sickly, emasculate, but 
full of life, vigour and enterprise." There was 
the revival which began at Frosterley in 1861, 
and spread through Weardale ; which in two 
months increased the membership from 68 to 
147, and led to the voluntary closing on the 
Sabbath of seven public-houses. Indeed, 
the whole period from 1860 to 1866 seems to have been a time of ingathering in 
Westgate Circuit, for the membership which had been 600 when the Rev. 
H. Phillips entered the circuit in the former year, had risen to 975 when the 
Rev. P. Clarke left it in 1867. Allendale, too, .which had gained its independence 
in 1848, had its visitation of power in the years 1859-61, which, after making good all 
losses, more than doubled the circuit membership. About the same time and onward, 
a great revival swept over West Cumberland from Whitehaven to Carlisle. In this 
revival the late Mr. Henry Miller was brought to God, whose active and useful connection 
with our Church in the Carlisle Circuit has only recently been terminated by death. 
The names of Rev. Adam Dodds Nathaniel-like in his guilelessness and John Taylor 
then in the vigour of early manhood and 
full of revival zeal will always be associated 
with this spiritual movement. Nor must the 
prominent part taken in the revival by Joseph 
Jopling of Frosterley a simple, devout, un- 
mercenary lay-evangelist be forgotten. Him- 
self the fruit of a revival, he in some sort links 
together the revivals of Weardale and Cum- 
berland. In this suitable connection we give 
the portrait of Mr. Joseph Collinson, another 
Frosterley local preacher who showed himself 
an active promoter of revivals. 




Barnard Castle and Whitehaven were branches of Hull Circuit until 1840, and 
Westgate and Alston until 1834 and 1835, respectively. Thus barely stated, this fact of 
the intimate relations with Hull Circuit, so long sustained by the branches named, 
seems simple enough. But it is not enough merely to state the fact, which had as many 


reticulations as the veining of a leaf, and some of these need following if we are to get 
a true idea of the state of the societies, which must have been largely conditioned and 
complexioned by this dependence on Hull. We have only to remember that all the 
affairs of the branches financial, administrative and disciplinary were regularly 
supervised by the parent circuit, in order to see that this must have been the case. Hull 
sent its preachers, and of these some of its very best, to work these distant branches. 
Messrs. Flesher, W. Garner, Harland, Sanderson, even Clowes himself they were all 
here at one time or another. The societies would fall into the habit of looking to Hull 
rather than as yet to Sunderland, to know what was being thought of and determined 
in reference to themselves. The Hull Committee would come to be regarded as 
a powerful, if somewhat mysterious entity, to be spoken of with respect ; so that Thomas 
Batty could clinch his argument with the " gentry " of Brough by first affirming : 
" I am sent by our Committee at Hull," and then by asking : " Do you think they have 
sent me here without legal authority"?" The frequent change of preachers in these 
branches, and the obligation the preachers were under to attend the quarterly meetings 
at Hull, were- regulations which, in practice, would create variety and incident in the 
societies from Whitehaven to Barnard Castle. The Jotirnals of the time are punctuated 
by references to these recurring quarterly meetings. You read the details of a spell of 
work, and then are suddenly brought to a stop by some such sentence as: "I then 
proceeded to Hull in order to attend the quarterly meeting." The preachers seem to be 
always either going to the quarter day or returning therefrom. Now, as we have written 
in another place : " It is easy to write that the missionary, Mr. Clowes, for instance, 
proceeded from Carlisle to Hull to attend the quarter day. A moment's reflection, 
however, will serve to make it sufficiently obvious, that seventy years ago this was no 
light journey. It probably enough meant rising with the lark, and with the mission or 
branches quarterly income in his pocket, and staff in hand, trudging along over bleak 
fells, and passing through town and village and hamlet. Now and again, it may be, he 
gets a lift in a carrier's cart or passing vehicle, and then, towards the gloaming, turns 
tired and travel-stained into some hospitable dwelling, the home of some well-known 
adherent of the Connexion or of some colleague in the ministry. Then the frugal 
meal, seasoned with pleasant talk of the work of God, and all sanctified by prayer ; the 
sleep which needed no wooing, preparing for the next day's journey. Many such days 
must have been, when as yet Whitehaven, Alston Moor, and other distant places were 
branches of Hull Circuit, and we have listened to the description of some such journey 
as this from those whose lips are now sealed by death." * 

Perhaps the thought may occur to us that these long journeys and frequent absences 
must have involved much toil and loss of time, and have been a serious interruption of 
labour. Likely enough it was so ; but we are writing of things as they were, and not 
of things as we think they ought to have been. Besides, one can on reflection see that 
these " journeyings oft" would have their compensations both for preachers and people. 
We have already, in speaking of Hugh Bourne's incessant perambulations during the 
time he was general superintendent, compared them to the movements of the weaver's 

* Smaller " History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion," 2nd Ed. pp. 76-7. 


shuttle by which the interlacing threads of the woof are added to the warp, and the 
tissue slowly put together. Similar would be the effect of the constant going to and fro 
of men who had not lost the taste or tradition of conversation-preaching. Intercourse 
would tend to knit together the various societies, and have a positive value for 
evangelisation. As for the preachers themselves, the stimulus derived from association 
with so many of their brethren assembled in Hull, would conduce to their greater 
efficiency, and they would return to their stations like iron that has been sharpened by 
iron. It is no fancy picture we draw. It so happens that both our arch-founders 
made " religious excursions " to use their own phrase in these part?, and in their 
Journal* we can see that, even by the head-waters of Tyne and Wear and Tees, 
and by the coast of the Irish Sea, we are still on Hull territory. We can also 
gain glimpses of some early befrienders of the cause in these parts, who kept 
open house for the servants of God and were recompensed by receiving back from 
them good into their own bosoms. W. Clowes speaks of being able to preach 
without intermission, night after night, on his way to Hull. It was not in his line, 
unfortunately, to give an account written with all the circumstantiality of a log-book, 
of such a journey. But once only once it would seem Hugh Bourne preached his 
way from Whitehaven to Darlington, and, as usual, his Journal is not wanting in 
that welcome particularity which helps to illumine the past. The one journey he describes 
may stand for many of which no record survives. What Hugh Bourne once did was 
often repeated by W. Clowes and other leading missionaries when en route for Hull. 

On the 4th of August, 1831, Hugh Bourne landed at Whitehaven and spent the 
remainder of the month in traversing, chiefly on foot, but with occasional helps by the 
way, the district, excluding Carlisle and Hexham, whose first missioning we have 
already described. He found W. Garner in charge of the Whitehaven Branch. He 
visited many families in company with Mr. Garner, and took part in services at White- 
haven, Harrington, Distington, and Workington. Then he took coach to Penrith and 
looked up Bro. Featherstone. A congregation was got together and Hugh Bourne 
preached, ^sext he walked twenty miles to Alston, through "a tract of country more 
dreary than any I saw in any part of the country." He jots down some particulars as to 
the violence and freaks of the " helm-wind," peculiar to that part and, in his careful 
vein, notes how a cheap kind of fuel is made in the district by means of "slack" 
(coal) mixed with clay and formed into fire-balls. Kow he is on the Alston and 
Westgate Union Branch of Hull Circuit with W. Sanderson as its superintendent, and 
along with him he again visits many families. He sees Bro. Walton, and is the guest of 
Mr. Muschamp at Brother! ee one night, and going to and fro he visits most of the places 
we have had occasion to mention Allenheads, Allendale Town, Middle Acton, Wearhead, 
Westgate, and Frosterley. "The pious, praying labourers are diligent," he observes, 
"and the work has been and is rather extraordinary." A revival is evidently again afoot 
in these parts. Then he walks to Middleton ten miles and finds twenty-one 
members have recently emigrated, one of these being Bro. Raine, who has become 
a preacher in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., and a letter from whom he reads. Assisted with 
a horse he now goes to Brough, where the quarterly meeting of the Barnard Castle Branch 
is being held, and he spends the night at Mouthlock with Bro. Hilton. Barnard Castle 


is his next stage, which he reaches partly by riding Bro. Hilton's horse, and partly by 
walking. He has another diet of visitation here in company with Bro. Harland, the 
minister in charge of the branch. " In this branch," he notes, " there is a great spirit 
of prayer, and the work is in a good state." He takes Staindrop on his way, and next 
day sets out for Darlington, taking care to call at Ingleton in order to share the 
hospitality of Bro. Emerson. They cross over to Bro. Young's and have a bout of 
prayer, and Brother Young takes him forward a little way in his conveyance. Their 
talk is not about beeves or crops, but about camp meetings. Bro. Young tells him of 
" a confused, unsteady, inefficient camp meeting he had lately attended in a neighbouring 
circuit ; " and Hugh Bourne has his own remarks to make on the cause and cure of this. 
" The travelling preachers ought to be called to their answer for cutting off the praying 
services." So he comes to Darlington and Hurworth for Sunday, August 28th, having, 
in his religious excursion of twenty-four days, preached twenty-eight times thrice in 
the open-air besides attending prayer meetings and visiting and walking an indefinite 
number of miles. Finally, because the Ripon coach was full, he takes the coach to 
Thirsk and walks to Ripon, and then by Leeds and Manchester makes for home, but 
falls ill just before he reaches it which we cannot much wonder at. 

During his itinerary through Hull's North-Western Branches Hugh Bourne, it may 
be remembered, had met with Joseph Walton and Mr. J. D. Muschamp. The latter 
was helpful to the Westgate Society when its first chapel was erected in 1824. The 
land for the site was given, and the miners in their spare time cheerfully assisted in 
the erection. Mr. Muschamp might have been seen hard at work among the rest. 
Thirty days he devoted to stone-getting or walling, and twenty to soliciting subscriptions. 
But presently the work was brought to a stand. It was alleged that the stones in the 
bed of the burn served to break the force of the " spate," and that their removal would 
endanger the bridge ; hence the person in charge of the bridges of the district, issued 
his prohibition against the taking out of any more stones for chapel-building purposes. 
In some way the matter came under discussion before certain magistrates and gentlemen 
at Durham. "Who are these Ranters'?" was the very natural inquiry. Some one well 
informed as to the facts of the case and well-disposed too, it would seem, stated what 
had been the moral effects of the entry of the Primitive Methodists into the dale, 
especially in having done more to put a stop to poaching than gamekeepers, magistrates 
and prisons together had been able to effect. On hearing this, permission to take as 
many stones from the bed of the burn as might be necessary to complete the chapel was 
readily granted. Once more Mr. Muschamp is said to have shown himself a friend in 
need. When the trustees were straitened for money and unable to meet the payment 
due to the builder, he went home, sold a cow and gave the proceeds to the building 
fund. For thirty years he was Circuit Steward and Chapel Treasurer, dying in 1858, 
at Brotherlee, on the small patrimonial estate where he had lived for eighty-three years. 

It was just two months before Hugh Bourne preached at Westgate that George Race 
had been made an exhorter. It is likely enough the novice both observed and heard 
the veteran attentively, though they might not have speech the one with the other. 
But though Hugh Bourne does not mention Mr. Race's name, if he could have foreseen 
the figure this new-fledged exhorter would afterwards become in the dale and beyond, 




he would certainly have referred to him, as we are bound to do. It would be rash and 
invidious to affirm that George Race, sen., was the ablest layman Primitive Methodism 
has yet produced. It is quite permissible to affirm that, for sheer mental force, there 
have been few to equal him. He was a dalesman and made no 
pretension, even in speech or manner, to be anything else. The 
miners and crofters felt that this village store-keeper was one of 
themselves, and yet they knew that mentally he was head and 
shoulders above themselves, and were proud and not jealous of 
his bigness, of which he seemed hardly aware. For there was in 
the man a fine balance of brain and heart ; his homeliness and 
companionableness drew men to him, so that the relation between 
him and his friends and neighbours was like that of a chieftain 
to his clansmen -familiar, but respectful. He had read much, 
and he had pondered and explored and discussed with his 
friends the underlying problems of philosophy and religion. In 

later years his mind was greatly drawn to geology in some of its aspects to stratifica- 
tion and denudation, and the rest. He tried to find out how these valleys and hills 
amongst which he loved to wander had become what they were ; how the valleys had 
been scooped out, and the course of the torrent scored, and the hills uplifted, and some 
of his doubts on the accepted conclusions relative to these matters, and his own 
excogitations thereon, were given to the world. Meanwhile he ' knew whom he had 
believed.' To him, " conversion was the abiding miracle" and Christian experience the 
basis of certitude. Few could preach with the same power and acceptance as he could, 
yet he was easily pleased with the preaching of others, for his faith being simple, his 
heart responded to the ring of sincerity in the utterance. We know our sketch of 
George Race, sen , is imperfect, but it is an honest attempt to hand down what may 
serve faintly to recall some of the features of this dalesman in ejccelsis. 

George Race, jun., worthily fills the place his father occupied so long. Heavily 
weighted as he is by the responsibility of sustaining and carrying onward the traditions 
and memories associated with the name he bears, that responsibility 
is being bravely and steadily borne. More would we say were he 
not, as happily he is, still amongst us. 

In this upland region where the rivers have their rise, Methodism 
in its two branches, old and Primitive, has long been, as it were, 
the established religion. These moors and dales have received 
much from Methodism, and it is just as true to say that they 
have given much to Methodism in return. So far as our own 
Church is concerned, the mere enumeration of those who have 
gone forth into its ministry from these parts would occupy more 
space than we have at command. Were we to add to these the 
dalesmen born who have, like their own rivers, found their way 
to the lowlands and populous centres to enrich the life of our churches, the roll would 
be a long one indeed. We have only to think of the Watsons, Pearts, Clemitsons, 
Elliotts, Featherstones, Gibsons, Reeds, Emmersons, Gills, Phillipsons, Prouds, and 




the bearer of other Northern names to be reminded of our indebtedness. The few 

portraits we give are only "on account." One of these is that of Joseph Gibson, of 
Brotherlee, who did such good work in Liverpool and, humanly speaking, died all too 




soon, in October 1866. Elsewhere will be found that of Dr. John Watson, of 
Ireshopeburn, who had what was probably the unique distinction of travelling the 
whole of his probation in his native circuit. As representative laymen of this 
interesting district we give the portraits of Messrs. Joseph Ritson, of Allendale, Ralph 
Featherstone Race, of Teesdale, J. Gibson, and J. Elliott, of Weardale. 

Mr. J. Ritson, of Ninebanks, West Allen, was intimately associated with the work of 
Primitive Methodism in the west part of the Allendale Circuit. Converted in Keenley 
under the ministry of Thomas Greener, he shortly afterwards removed to Ninebanks 
where he commenced business as a joiner and cartwright. This was in 1833, and at 
that time we had no chapel in West Allendale. Largely through Mr. Ritson's efforts 
land was obtained and a chapel built at Carry Hill, three-quarters of a mile further up 
the Dale. For the next forty years he was a leading figure in the society and laboured 
indefatigably for the advancement of the cause. His house was the home of the 
preachers. His eldest son was for many years Circuit Steward ; his second daughter 

became the wife of the Rev. R. Clemitson, 

and his youngest son is in the ministry of 

our Church and vice-editor. Retiring from 

business in 1872, he removed to the neigh- 
bourhood of Allendale Town, and took a 

leading part in the erection of the present 

chapel. He died July 26th, 1878. Mr. Ritson 

was a profoundly religious man ; " he carried 

his conscience into the construction of a cart 

wheel, the roofing of a house, the making of 

a piece of furniture each must be a sound 

piece of workmanship." 
The two honoured ministers named above may be taken as good specimens of that type 
of men of which this interesting region is the matrix. The type is one not difficult 
to recognise. You find in it a pronounced sobriety and thoughtfulness, in perfect 






keepin" with the austere anil solemn beauty of the outward things their eyes first 
looked upon. It has a temperament capable of quet and sustained enthusiasm. It 
is hard and solid to look at and handle, but it can kindle and enkindle. In short it 
is the anthracite temperament. The dalesmen using the 
word generally have the temperament and the tradition of 
icvivalism, and they will be wise for themselves and for the 
Connexion, if they yield to their temperament and conserve 
and carry on the tradition. 

Some account has already been given of the establishment 
of our cause in Hexham, and reference has also been made to 
the extensive area of the circuit and the part it took in 
early missionary operations. Contemporary journals serve 
to complete the picture, by giving us glimpses of some of the 
more notable men and women who in their time contributed 
to the working and maintenance of the Hexham Circuit. 
Invaluable in this regard is the manuscript Autobiography of 
the late Rev. C. C. McKechnie, who was on the station in 1841-2 just at the end of 
the first period. Occasionally we shall borrow from his graphic characterisations, and 
by so doing enrich our pages. 

After a time the old Malt-kiln was left for the chapel in Bull Bank, with the 
preacher's hoxise at its side. This served the uses of the Hexham Society until 1863, 
when the '' Hebbron Memorial Chapel" was opened. Now, after other forty years have 
passed, a remove is again about to be made to a splendid site at the junction of four 
principal streets, not more than one hundred yards from the original Malt-kiln. The 
mention of the " Hebbron Memorial " naturally leads to a reference to "the Ridley family 
of which Mrs. Hebbron was a member. At the time Primitive Methodism was first 
brought to Hexham, the brothers Ridley occupied a good position and were deservedly 
held in respect in the town. Though associated with the Congregational Church they 
showed a very friendly spirit to our newly-planted cause. Their only sister was induced 
to attend the services, and under a sermon by Rev. W. Garner, 
Miss Ridley was led to make the great decision, and to cast in her 
lot with our people. A little romance now began : Miss Ridley 
became the betrothed of Rev. W. Garner ; her friends disapproved 
of the match, and took their own method to ensure its being 
broken. Each thought the other false and each was wrong. But 
Miss Ridley was destined after all to be the wife of a Primitive 
Methodist preacher. The Rev. Henry Hebbron became her suitor, 
and a successful one. He was a gentleman by birth, and un- 
mistakably one in appearance and manner, and with expectations. 
This time the fates interposed no bar. In their union there was 
a convergence of several ancestral lines associated with the 
evangelical succession. Miss Ridley belonged to a family which could boast of its con- 
nection with the Ridleys of Williamswick^a family to which belonged the martyr Ridley, 
while on the maternal side she Avas related to Thomas Scott the commentator. On his 





side, Mr. Hebbron was the cousin of the Rev. David Simpson the author of the 
once well-known "Plea for Religion." Being left with ample means Mrs. Hebbron 
thought to carry out the wishes of her husband, who died in 1860, by building a chapel 
for the denomination in Hexham. On the day June 24th, 
1863 the chapel should have been opened, Mrs. Hebbron died, 
and her remains were brought from Potto and were interred by 
those of her husband in Hexham cemetery. 

Besides the Ridleys of Hexham, reference must be made to 
Mr. James Davison of Dean Row. Mr. McKechnie thus speaks 
of him : 

" In the west part of the Hexham Circuit we had some most 
interesting people, among the rest James Davison, schoolmaster 
of Dean Row, stood prominent. Mr. Davison was a remarkable 
man, slow and somewhat hesitant of speech, but clear and 
penetrating in his judgment, consecutive and forcible in his 
reasonings, and withal of a generous, ardent, passionate temperament. He con- 
tributed largely to the building up and consolidating of the Hexham Circuit, 
and often attended district meeting and conference as circuit delegate." 

As everybody knows, Dr. Joseph Parker was a " Tynechild "born and brought up at 
Hexham. Probably neither he nor his father was at any time actually connected with 
our Church, but they frequently attended its services, and it is about certain that much 
of young Parker's early preaching was done in connection with our agencies, and that 
he delivered his first temperance address in a Primitive Methodist chapel. Several of 
our ministers were frequent visitors to the home of the Parkers, and with the Rev. 
R. Fenwick he kept up an intermittent correspondence almost to the end. Though 
therefore we may not be able to claim so large a part in Dr. Parker as in C. H. Spurgeon 
or Dr. Landelis, we may fairly claim to have had some small share in his early develop- 
ment. Dr. Parker, however, is brought in here mainly because of his early relations 




with Mr. James Davison. Something of the calibre of the latter may be learned from 
the famous preacher's juvenile estimate of him. In a letter of the most intimate kind 
addressed to the schoolmaster of Dean Row, he says : " Mr. Davison has been a name 
ever associated in my mind with boundless kindness, cultivated intellect and open 


straight-forwardness." * " Mr. Davison and Primitive Methodist Camp Meetings ! " 
was the exclamation with which he greeted his old friend on the occasion of a visit paid 
to Haydonbridge long after he had become famous. Evidently memory still retained 
in her niche the image of Mr. Davison as the representative figure of Hexamshire 
Primitive Methodism. 

In Mr. McKechnie's manuscript pages we get pleasant glimpses of his colleagues in 
the Hexham Circuit in this year 1842. Two of these bore names which their sons 
have perpetuated and made familiar to Primitive Methodists of a later generation. 
Christopher Hallam, "warm-hearted, genial," was one of these, and Henry Yooll, "a man 
of devout spirit, who attended well to pastoral duties and was well received as 
a preacher," was another. Mrs. Hallam might have been reckoned as yet another 
colleague, for she frequently preached in the Hexham Circuit, as she did in all the 
circuits in which her lot was cast, and always with much acceptance. Indeed, though 
Mrs. Hallam was not a travelling preacher in the technical sense, she was known 
throughout the northern counties as a woman of special gifts and usefulness. Especially 
was this the case, as we shall see, in Scotland where Mrs. Hallam left enduring memories 
of herself. Mr. McKechnie speaks of her " wide, intellectual outlook," and claims for 
her that she had a mental equipment that would have been creditable to any minister of 
the gospel. 

Mr. McKechnie makes grateful mention too of the kindness and connexional loyalty 
of the Lowes of Cowburn and Galisharigg, and draws an interesting picture of some of 
the Sunday afternoon services at Cowburn. These had certain features all their own ; 
for the congregation was largely made up of stalwart shepherds from the hills who, as 
a matter of course, came accompanied by their collies. The dogs were expected to 
behave themselves, and usually did so, lying quietly under their masters' forms. But 
sometimes what began in provocative growls would end in a downright fight, and the 
preacher had to pause till order was restored. Mr. McKechnie had his turn on the 
Rothbury Mission, and has a good word for the steward of Brinkburn Priovy on the 
East Coquet, who was a warm-hearted and devoted friend of the cause ; and especially 
of Mr. Thomas Thornton, an extensive sheep-farmer of Cambo, some twelve or fourteen 
miles south of Rothbury. Mr. Thornton had gathered much worldly substance, but 
subordinated everything to religion. He was a loyal-hearted Primitive, entertained the 
preachers bountifully, and in other ways supported and helped to extend the cause. 

For twenty years Hexham Circuit enjoyed the distinction of having within its borders 
the owner of an ancient name and of an ancient demesne, who was as thorough 
a Primitive Methodist as any one could wish to meet. Even in Northumberland, where 
pedigree counts for much, Robert Ingram Shafto's claim to belong to a good, old, county 
family was unimpeachable. Now, though our early preachers in their incessant 
journey ings to and fro often saw the stately homes of England, they usually saw 
them through the park palings, or from a distant eminence. They seldom came in 
-contact with the owners of these mansions except at Quarter Sessions. It was indeed 

* See the article " Dr. Parker " in " Primitive Methodist Quarterly Review," April, 1903, written 
by Eev. M. P. Davison, the son of Mr. James Davison. The date of the letter is May 14th, 1850. 


a novel, if not a unique, experience to be able to feel that the owner of Bavington Hall 
was a brother Primitive ; that, notwithstanding his long pedigree and his rent-roll, he 
had his name in the class-book ; that he liked nothing better than to have Primitive 
Methodists on his estate and round his table, and enjoyed a camp meeting with as much 
zest as his shepherd or ploughman. But so it was ; and we need not be surprised if 
Squire Shafto and Bavington Hall rather impressed the imagination of our people, and 
if, even yet, the names are invested with a certain glamour. Mr. MeKeclmie was, of 
course, in his turn a guest at Bavington Hall, and as we know of no better description 
of it than the one he has given, we shall here borrow from it. 

" Bavington Hall stands about twelve miles north of Hexham, on the borders of a 
rugged tract of country mostly moorland, which stretches away in monotonous dreari- 
ness towards the Cheviot Hills. The estate to which it belongs, though not one of the 
largest in Northumberland, covers a considerable extent of country, and has been the 
property of the Shafto family for many generations. The Hall itself is not a specially 
attractive object in the landscape. It is a spacious but heavy-looking building, with 
little or no ornamentation, evidently constructed more for comfort and convenience 
than for beauty of appearance. 

" Seventy or eighty years ago Bavington Hall was well known to the Primitives in 
the North of England. Such of them as had not seen it had often heard of it. It had 
indeed become among them a sort of household word. It was, perhaps, the only house 
in England where Primitive Methodism had obtained a vital connection with the gentry 
of the country. The Squire then in possession was a younger son who, after finishing his 
course of education at Cambridge, had settled at Sunderland as a solicitor. There he 
came under the influence of our early preachers, experienced the regenerating power of 
God's grace, and united with the Society. On succeeding to the Bavington estate, he 
did not hide his light under a bushel. In a simple, unostentatious way, without noise 
or parade, but not the less effectually, he made it pretty widely understood that he was 
a Primitive, and intended his life to be in harmony with his religious profession. He 
opened a communication with the authorities of the Hexham Circuit, invited the 
preachers to the Hall, and made arrangements for the formation of a Society and 
Sunday school for the holding of regular preaching services, and the erection of 
a chapel. The work of evangelising the neighbourhood on Primitive lines also com- 
menced in good earnest. Not only in the surrounding hamlets, but in several outlying 
farmhouses, this good work was vigorously carried on. Mr. Shafto himself became 
a local preacher, and had his name on the preachers' plan, though he did not preach 
much. He considered the Sunday school his proper sphere, and for many years he 
rendered much devoted and loving service as school superintendent. To strengthen 
the infant cause and increase its working power, members and local preachers from 
a distance were, at Mr. Shafto's instance, offered inducements to settle on the estate ; 
and Bavington soon became noted all round the country-side as a centre and stronghold 
of Primitive Methodism. While liberally supporting circuit and connexional funds, 
Mr. Shafto took special interest in our Rothbury Mission. For a while, at least, it was 
chiefly sustained by himself ; and the preacher stationed there was encouraged to ask 
him for any special help he might require in working what was then a much-neglected 
and semi-barbarous region. The gentry around Bavington, though much shocked with 
Mr. Shafto's proceedings, prudently abstained from breaking with him openly, thinking, 
probably, opposition would have the effect of increasing rather than abating the 
annoyance. Mr. Shafto kept little company, none at all of a gay or worldly character. 



He restricted himself almost entirely to the preachers and other prominent members of 
the Connexion. The Hall was seldom, for any length of time, without company of this 
kind. On special occasions, when preachers of note were present, the clergyman of the 
parish would probably be an invited guest ; but it was noteworthy that, though treated 
with perfect respect, no greater deference was paid to him than to our own preachers. 
To all intents and purposes they were treated alike .... 

"Mr. Shafto was a modest, 
warm-hearted, unpretending 
gentleman, who might be 
approached and conversed 
with by the humblest person 
with the utmost freedom. His 
personal appearance was not 
impressive. He was somewhat 
under the middle size ; his 
countenance, though pleasant, 
had no striking features; his 
dress was plain, and his man- 
ners, while perfectly correct, 
were simple and homely. 
Nature had not gifted him 
with the higher qualities of 
mind ; but he had good sense 
and a sound judgment, and 
his University education gave 
marked propriety and polish 

to his speech I often 

rioted he never seemed to 
tire talking about Primitive 
Methodism. So completely had 
the Connexion filled the orb 
of his vision that he seemed 
to take little cognisance of 
other churches. The Church 
of England he regarded as a 
fallen Church hastening to 
extinction ; nothing could save 
it so he thought and said. 
Primitive Methodism, on the 
other hand, would, beyond all 
doubt, grow and multiply and 
fill the land. More than once 
I have heard him say it was 
sure to take the place of the 


<j vufj.*.^ i/AAv> ^/J.CIV'C; \JL UI1C 

State Church ; and the wonder to him was that everybody did not see this as clearly as 
himself. Such sentiments would be set down now-a-days as foolish extravagance ; but 
it ought to be remembered that when Mr. Shafto dreamt these dreams and saw these 
visions, the Church of England was at its nadir, while Primitive Methodism was like 
a young giant, full of life and blood, prodigal of its strength, and marching on exultingly 
from conquering to conquer." I, 


Hugh Bourne, as well as others of the fathers, was an occasional visitor at Bavington 
Hall ; and stories are not wanting of the way in which its mistress, pleasant hostess 
though she was, would take note of his idiosyncrasies, and would engage him' in 
discussions in which the advantage was not always on his side. For Mrs. Shafto 
loved an encounter of argument and wit and was a woman of strong convictions. She 
rallied him on his extravagance, plain to see in the tell-tale sediment at the bottom of 
his cup ! His alarm and contrition when the peccadillo was brought home to him was 
one of her cherished recollections. She vanquished his scruples as to signing the pledge, 
and though he claimed "the teetotallers had joined him," he came out from that 
entrenchment and admitted the cogency of her arguments. Many a scene like that our 
artist has tried to picture was enacted in the drawing-room of Bavington, and perhaps 
imagination may be able even to improve upon the picture the artist has drawn. But 
there was to be an end of them. Squire Shafto died April 5th, 1848, and a new Squire, 
came into possession who knew not the Primitives. The chapel was alienated and 
a blight came over the fair prospect. 

" So sleeps the pride of former days, 
So glory's thrill is o'er." 




HE story of the Northern Mission has now to be told. The success of this 
mission was in every way remarkable so remarkable indeed as evidently 
to have been beyond expectation, and even somewhat embarrassing. How 
the new territory thus gained and added on to the Connexion was to be 
apportioned and administered, raised some problems which had at once to be dealt with. 
Pre-existing arrangements were modified. A new District unthought of at the Conference 
of 1823 was extemporised. Five new northern circuits, which had been made during 
the year, had to be represented at some District Meeting. The district to which they 
geographically belonged was Brompton, which, in 1823, included North Shields ; but, 
as we see from the Minutes of 1823, no district was supposed to comprise more than 
six circuits, whereas, if Hexham, Carlisle, North and South Shields, Newcastle, and 
Sunderland sent their representatives to Brompton District Meeting, that District would 
have eleven circuits instead of six. So the six northern circuits were provisionally 
formed into an entirely new District, which had its first meeting at South Shields on 
Easter Monday, 1824. The Conference Minutes make no mention of this fresh grouping 
of the northern stations ; but that it took place, and that there was for one year a South 
Shields District, is clear from an interesting entry in N. West's Journal, which is worth 
giving, as bringing before us in a vivid way the progress the Connexion had made in 
the north-eastern counties in two short years. 

"Monday, April 19th. Went with brothers Anderson and Peckett (delegates 
from Sunderland) to South Shields District [Meeting], where we met the delegates 
from North Shields, South Shields, Newcastle, Hexham, and Carlisle. The District 
Meeting lasted till Friday the 23rd. Much peace prevailed. The state of each 
circuit was prosperous, the whole number in the District amounted to twenty 
travelling preachers, sixty-one local preachers (not including exhorters), and 3,632 
members. We have great reason to thank the Lord." 

Our method hitherto has been to relate the particular history of a circuit to the 
general history ; to try to show how that circuit was but a link in a chain, one of 
a series of stepping-stones, a brick in a building, supported and lending support to 
others. Agreeably to this method, the missioning of the populous towns on the Tyne 
and Wear must be regarded as being, in its beginning, the continuation and natural 
development of Hull's Hutton Rudby and East Yorkshire Missions. In 1821, Hutton 
Rudby sent Messrs. J. Branfoot and J. Farrar to establish a cause in Guisborough, 
which for a time proved very successful. After this, Mr. Branfoot found his way to 

L 2 


Newcastle, where, in all these northern parts, the human grain stood thickest and ripest. 
We say he " found his way " advisedly ; for. whether he had a roving commission to go 
where he thought he could do most good, and so, in the spirit of a true Christian 
knight-errant, bent his steps to the capital of the North ; or whether the Hutton Rudby 
Circuit gave him a definite commission, the phrase " found his way " will, in either case, 
suit the fact. Though as yet there was no Primitive Methodist Society in Newcastle, 
there were those resident in the town who had been Primitive Methodists, and who 
were still such in sympathy, though for the time being they were attached to a sister 
community. Among these were Mr. William Morris, whose name stands on the first 
printed plan of the Tunstall Circuit, and Mr. John Bagshaw, also a local preacher of 
a later date, and who was shortly to become a travelling preacher in the Newcastle 
Circuit. These two early adherents had removed from Staffordshire to the North for 
the sake of employment, but still kept in touch with their old friends. It may even 
have been that when Mr. Branfoot entered Newcastle, Mr. Clowes had by him an 
invitation from these two old comrades to visit them, and was only waiting the 
opportunity to accept it. The visit was duly paid in the autumn of this same year, and 
the probability is that it was paid when Mr. Clowes was in the Hutton Rudby 
neighbourhood. It was during this visit that Clowes preached on "the Ascension of 
Christ " with telling effect. He was better advised than Mr. Branfoot in fixing upon the 
Ballast Hills rather than the end of Sandgate as the locality for his service ; for it was 
in the Pandon or older eastern district of Newcastle that Primitive Methodism was 
destined to strike its earliest roots. It chanced, too, that on this first of August, when 
Mr. Branfoot attempted to preach near Sandgate, there had been a boat-race on the 
Tyne ; and what that means every Tynesider will know. Mary Porteus was there, 
and she has told us that, as she saw Mr. Branfoot standing on a stool, with the rabble 
crowd surging round him some swearing, and others setting dogs on to fight she 
thought gospel-preaching was needed there and then just as much as when John Wesley 
preached on the same spot eighty years before. But as she witnessed the good man 
struggling to preach, and at last obliged to content himself with words of warning and 
exhortation, she thought again : " Surely the preacher must think that the people in these 
northern parts are little better than heathens." The service broke up in confusion, 
though not before Mr. Branfoot had announced his intention to 
preach in Gateshead on the following evening. This he did, 
standing beneath some trees on the very spot where Wesley had 
once stood to declare the word of life. This time the service 
was orderly, and the preacher spoke with power from, " I am 
the resurrection and the life." 

It should be noted that during his visit to Newcastle, Mr. Branfoot 
was the guest of Mr. John Lightfoot, who is said to have been 
converted at Durham through the agency of William Brarnwell, and 
through his good offices placed in a business-house in Newcastle. 

JOHN LIGHTFOOT. ,, T . , . , . . 

Mr. L,ighttoot was the leader of two classes, and an active worker m 
the Wesleyan Church. Mr. Branfoot's visit, though a brief and apparently abortive one, 
would have its influence. Later in the day of this same first of August, Mary Porteus 



was surprised to receive a visit from Mr. Lightfoot and his guest. She counted it an 
honour to have the good missionary under her roof, and to take part in the prayers 
which, as a matter of course, marked the visit. Newcastle made ample return to 
Cleveland for sending her its first missionary ; for Mary Porteus began her ministry in 
the Guisborough and Whitby Union Circuit in January, 1826, and laboured there 
two and a half years, while in 1827 John Lightfoot also in the same circuit began his 
useful ministry of thirty-seven years. Thus was fulfilled Christ's saying : " Give, and 
it shall be given you ; good measure." 

When next we get an authentic glimpse of John Branfoot he is holding a service in 
the spacious market-place of South Shields, which has long been a favourite pitch for 
those who have something to sell or tell. He himself has given us the date of this 


first service : "It was on the 17th of December, 1821," he says, "when we first opened 
the place." The Market Square, as Mr. Branfoot saw it in the dubious light of that 
winter's evening, would present much the same appearance it does to-day, except that 
the fronts of the shops that line three of its sides have been modernised. In the 
middle stood the Town House, and the fourth side of the square was flanked by the old 
ehurch and its graveyard. This service was in every way a contrast to that which 
Mr. Branfoot had attempted to hold in Newcastle. The goodly number that gathered 
round pilots, fishermen, miners, coal-heavers, glass-workers were used to criers and 
vendors of all sorts, but this one was different from the rest, and must be listened to. 
So tradition tells, that as they stood there nothing broke the silence save the preacher's 
voice, and when he had done, men and women still lingered as though loath to leave 
the spot. 


For a time services were of necessity held in the open-air; then two houses in 
Waterloo Lane, now Oyston Street, were thrown into one, and the room thus formed 
served as a shelter and home for the small society. This room was a workshop also, as 
well as a shelter, and in it work went on which made less work for the police-court and 
public-houses, and ensured better work being done in the mine and glass-works. Some 
who had led vicious lives were reformed, and their reformation was manifest in the 
town. Those who had known their former manner of life recognised the change, and 
had the candour to acknowledge that "good work was being done in the Ranters' 
room." So the society soon outgrew its first habitation, and a remove was made to 
a sail-loft in Wapping Street, hard by the river. The third and topmost story of this 
building was the preaching-room. It was reached by a flight of stairs, dark and steep ; 
the room was open to the ridge of the roof, and dimly lighted by small windows eked 
out by a few slabs of glass inserted here and there among the tiles. This room was 
opened for worship by W. Clowes on October 20th, 1822. "The room," he says, "is 
nearly thirty yards long, but more came than could get in. At night the congregation 
seemed to be all on a move. There was a cry out for mercy, and two got liberty. 
This meeting, I conceive, will never be forgotten." There was no persecution 
met with at South Shields worth speaking of. A few youths might now and again 
put out the lights on the stair-way of the sail-loft, or let sparrows loose in the room 
itself; but this was only their way of finding amusement, and these youths were the 
very material out of which promising converts were made. Indeed, persecution found 
no favourable soil for itself in these northern towns. There was no territorial influence 
or popular sympathy to foster it, and employers of labour were disposed to favour rather 
than to discourage a movement which, in its first evangelistic phase, was so plainly 
working to their advantage. So the sail-loft was crowded and converts multiplied, 
until, by the spring of 1823, we find the society deep in chapel-building. A piece of 
glebe land, near the old graveyard, was obtained on a long lease, and on April 21st, 
1823, the foundation-stone of the Glebe Chapel was laid, and a collection of 3 14s. 3d. 
taken ! The amount suggests that the society was financially but poorly equipped for 
the formidable task to which it was committed ; for, with the exception of two or three 
tradesmen, such as Messrs. Edward Nettleship, Joshua Hairs, and John Eobinson, the 
members were worth no more than their weekly wage. The building of the chapel was 
not contracted for ; it was done by the day, and paid for as the work proceeded. The 
first service was held in August, when it was a mere shell of a building, and even when 
it was formally opened in November, it was still unfinished, and remained so for some 
years. It would seem that the Glebe might have been lost to the Connexion in this 
time of searching and trial, had it not been for Mr. John Eobinson, who was better off 
than the rest. By diligent trading he had got together means which his careful and 
inexpensive habits of life made it easy for him to keep together and increase. He came 
to the rescue of the trustees just at the time of their direst need, when they could do 
little more than pray for deliverance. He advanced 1'460, and some smaller amounts 
were advanced by others, which gave a measure of relief. In the end, Mr. Robinson 
took upon him the whole financial responsibility and much of the practical management 
of the trust estate, and bore the burthen until the society was in a position to shoulder 



the responsibility. Ko wonder our fathers were firm believers in a Providence, and had 
a special " Providence Department " in their Magazine. It was by such experiences as 
these the conviction was inwrought that God had interposed on their behalf. That 
conviction was recorded on the front of the sanctuary which, in no conventional sense, 
was regarded as their " Ebenezer "their " God's Providence House." " What building 



is this ? '' asked a man of his companion as they passed the Glebe. Before the other 
could make reply, a boy, who was playing among the rubbish, broke in : " It's the 
'Ranters" Chapel." "Why, how in the world have these folk got such a building as 
this 1 " was the exclamation of this " man of the street," expressing a surprise natural in 





one not aware of God's partnership in the venture. " If you will go round to the other 
side you will see," said the boy. They went and read : " Hitherto the Lord hath 
helped us." Joseph Spoor used to tell this little anecdote with zest. But, indeed, it is 
more than an anecdote ; it is also a parable, with an obvious moral, setting forth the 
history of many of our early chapels notably of the Glebe. Despite all the changes of 


the years, that chapel has had a continuous history. There is still the Glebe Chapel as 
there is still St. Sepulchre Street. Eighty years have but served to impart a richer 
suggestiveness to the old name, and to make the pious legend, "Hitherto the Lord 
hath helped us," still more pertinent. 

Meanwhile, during this prolonged crisis, the spiritual side of the Church's work was 
diligently attended to by the few faithful men who stood to their posts. The whole of 
Werewickshire the district lying between the Tyne and "Wear was missioned as far 
west as Chester-le-Street, Ouston, Pelton, and the collieries by the Wear beyond 
Washington. The places thus opened were made into a circuit in September, 1823, 
Joshua Hairs being the first Circuit Steward. " A short time before the circuit was 
formed, a few members from the sail-loft missioned the colliery at the west end of the 
town and established services there. A class was soon formed, the leader of which 
was a publican. This society [Templetown] met in cottages and other places, till 
circumstances favoured the erection of a small place of worship." * At the first Circuit 
Quarterly Meeting, held December 9th, 1823, there were twenty-three places with 552 
members ; three months later the membership was 760, the quarter having witnessed 
an increase of 208. 

Our space will permit us to do little more than allude to one or two out of the many 
officials who have contributed to the extension and upbuilding of the South Shields 
Circuit. Unfortunately no portrait is procurable of Mr. John Robinson, whose praise- 
worthy efforts to preserve the Glebe to the Connexion have been referred to ; but we 
give the likenesses of his son Mr. John Robinson, shipowner, and late Circuit Steward, 
and of his excellent wife, whose life was full of good works. Other faithful men 
and active officials were Messrs. George Bird, Richard Bulmer, Alexander Thompson, 
son-in-law of Rev. John Day, and father of Rev. J. Day Thompson, J. Brack, a most 
estimable man, and William Owen, a once very familiar figure to the riverine 
inhabitants of both the Shields, who could preach a sermon, and steer his ponderous 
ferry-boat across the Tyne, with equal skill. 


On Tuesday, February 5th, 1822, W. Clowes crossed over from North to South Shields, 
and heard J. Branfoot of Hutton Rudby Circuit preach. Referring to South Shields, 
he writes : " If he had not taken it, we [the Hull Circuit] should now have taken it. 
So we are shoulder to shoulder. I think we are now likely to spread through the 
North." Only three days before, Clowes had arrived from the Darlington branch 
in order to begin a mission at North Shields. He had come at the invitation of 
Joseph Peart who, four years before, had left his native Alston Moor and was now 
a schoolmaster at Chirton. Why a Wesleyan local preacher in good standing, as 
Joseph Peart was at the time, should have taken such a step as this, he himself has 
told us. The explanation he gives shows that, at North Shields as elsewhere, there 
existed, side by side, two variant and competing types of Methodism which found it 
difficult to live and work together without friction. The experience so common as 

* Notes by the late Rev. John Atkinson. 


to be a characteristic of the time goes far to explain and justify the rise and spread 
of Primitive Methodism. 

"One day I was alone in my room, studying how I could best glorify God in 
supporting His blessed work ; for there had frequently been antagonists to great 
outpourings of the Holy Spirit even amongst the professed members of the Church. 
They could not endure the natural results of such visitations, but looked upon it 
as wildfire, disorder, confusion, enthusiasm, etc. I had a very strong debate with 
a professor of the dead languages who, as well as myself, belonged to the society 
of the Old .Methodists. While contending with him in vindication of the rationality 
and great utility of such a work as had been effected in North Shields, about five 
years previous to that time, by an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Ghost, 
he, by way of derision, said, 'You should have been a "Ranter"' It powerfully 
wrought on my mind, as I sat in the room, that it was my indispensable duty to 
send for the ' Ranters ' (so called). The circumstance was very singular ; for I had 
never heard and never seen any of them. ' I was not disobedient to the heavenly ' 
call, but wrote for William Clowes, who shortly arrived at our house, and stopped 
till the cause got established." 

Mr. Clowes had preached at North Shields in the autumn of 1821, when he visited 
his Newcastle friends. He had always his " seed-basket " with him ; and he had 
preached during this flying visit, on the principle of " sowing beside all waters," even 
when he was not likely to enjoy the fruits. Now, however, he was here for the double 
purpose of sowing and reaping. February 3rd, 1822, is reckoned by him as the date 
when North Shields as a new outfield was first opened. On that Sunday evening he 
preached at the lower part of the town, in a schoolroom belonging to Mr. Webster, 
who had granted them the use of it for a month, rent free. The town-crier was 
sent round to let the public know what was afoot, and the room was thronged. Next 
night, after a preaching service in the same room, the first class was formed consisting 
of three members, two of whom became travelling preachers before the year was out. 
One of these, and the first to have his name enrolled as member and leader, was 
Joseph Peart, who began his fourteen years' ministry in Hull's north-eastern branches. 
The other was William Summersides, the missioner of Carlisle and Whitehaven, one 
of Hull's first missionaries to the United States, and, on his temporary return in 1838, 
the advocate and promoter of Protracted Meetings. When, at the end of three weeks, 
W. Clowes returned to Darlingtbn, he had formed a second class at the upper part of 
North Shields ; had preached at Howden Pans " to a thousand of a congregation, in 
general well behaved " ; and visited Blyth, " where there appeared to be an opening 
for the work of the Lord." 

With an improvement in its "temporal concerns," and influenced by the representations 
of W. Clowes, the March Quarterly Meeting of the Hull Circuit decided to take 
over the Northern Mission from Hutton Rudby. After his three weeks' experience, 
W. Clowes was more confident than when, at the end of three days, he had written : 
" / think we are now likely to spread through the North," Now he was persuaded 
that the work only needed to be pushed forward and followed up vigorously in order 
to be a signal success, and it is evident he brought his brethren to see as he did and to 
share his confidence. So, in a communication to the Magazine sent by Mr. R. Jackson 


on Ike morrow of the Quarterly Meeting, we are told : ** Brother Clowes left Hull on 
the 18th inst for Newrastle-on-Tyne, Sundedand, Shields, etc. We are going to send 
Ani preachers into Northumberland this quarter,' Then follows an allusion to the 
favourable opening presented by Blyth, on which, no doubt, Mr. Clowes had dilated : 
" There appears to be a good opening in one town, near the seaside* which is about 
140 miles from Hull" 

The Hull authorities had faith in the future of the Northern Mission, and gave bond 
for their faith by appointing to il John and Thomas Nelson as the fellow-labourers of 
W. Clowes, The brothers, who sprang from a Tillage in the neighbourhood of Whitby, 
rendered unforgettable service to the Connexion in its early days. . In the North their 
mmftr are deservedly held in high esteem. Contemporary journals, biographies, and 
tradition, bear concurrent testimony to the quantity and quality of the work they did in 
pioneering Primitive Methodism in the eastern parts of Northumberland and Durham. 
Of the two brothers, Thomas Nelson was slightly the elder, and by a few months was first 
in the field. He had a good share of natural ability, and a more than common eal in 
winning souls. He preached almost exclusively in the open-air when in the North, 
and often to immense congregations. Whether in this as in 
other cases which have come under our notice, "the fiery 
soul o'er-informed the house .of clay," and subjected it to 
a strain that could not long be endured, we know not; 
but this is certain Thomas Nelson travelled only seven 
or eight years. His last circuit was Birmingham. Here, in 
1828, his health failed, and he settled down at Rothweli, 
near Leeds, where he died February, 1848, aged 51 yeans. 
The model minister, John Wesley tells us, should have 
"gifts, grace, and fruit" Thomas Nelson shaped himself 
after this pattern. 

John Nelson entered the itinerant ranks in December, 1820. 
He had the advantage of his brother as to physique, being 

tall of stature and strongly built, his countenance pleasing, and his presence commanding. 
In him were united eeal and industry, considerable intellectual power and fluent utter- 
ance a combination of qualities which naturally rendered his ministry popular and 
attractive, John Nelson entered, too, the ranks of authorship ; but he took his place 
there as the precursor of J. A. Bastow, John Petty, James Garner, and Thomas 
Greenfield, not as a Biblical scholar or systematic theologian, but as a preacher still. 
The volume of " Sermons and Lectures " he published the bulkiest and highest-priced 
book as yet given to the press by a Primitive Methodist preacher was a souvenir 
of his ministry in Hull in 1828 9. It consisted of a series of diimmm doctrinal, 
practical, and experimental delivered on Sunday evenings when, in his turn, he 
occupied the town pulpit Unfortunately for our Church and unfortunately for 
himself, too, we believe, John Nelson afterwards withdrew from the Connexion. But 
this withdrawal did not take place until some years after the time of which we are 
writing, and does not concern us here. 

Close upon a year after their appointment to the North Mission, the three yoke- 


fellows met at North Shields, for the purpose of attending the preparatory Quarterly 
Meeting. They slept under Dr. Oxley's roof, which for once failed to afford a safe 
shelter. A tragedy like that which, in the night of February 27th, 1903, was fatal 
to the estimable \V. li. de Winton, was all but rehearsed. Seldom are men brought 
so near death and escape scathless. Well might W. Clowes prefix to his account of 
their common deliverance the words of the Psalmist, " He shall give His angels charge 
over thee ;" for death brushed them with his wings as he passed, and yet no harm 
befell them. It was the early morning of Monday, March 3rd, 1823. "W. Clowes 
U;H roused from sleep by the noise of the wind, which had risen to a perfect hurricane. 
Scarcely had he dressed when a stack of chimneys crashed through the roof and broke 
in the floors. When he and his alarmed companions made for the stairs they found 
them blocked by the fallen roof. How under these circumstances they contrived to 
escape is not very clear ; but escape they did. The local chronicler notes the preservation 
of Dr. Oxley and his family, but he does not know as how should he 1 what the 
preservation of Dr. Oxley's guests meant for Primitive Methodism. The loss of 
Messrs. Branfoot and Hewson by misadventure on the Hetton waggon- way on 
February 26th, 1831, was a heavy blow; the loss of W. Clowes and the Nelson 
brothers in the great storm of 1823 would have been a disaster.* 

The preparatory Quarterly Meeting held, as we have said, on the day of this hair- 
breadth escape, proposed that North Shields should be made a circuit. Considerable 
progress must have been made during the year to warrant the taking of such a step. 
So late as June, 1822, the membership of the Northern Mission was but seventy. 
Since then the Mission had been divided into the North and South Shields branches, 
with an aggregate membership of 681, almost equally divided between the two branches. 
In addition to these, Stockton Mission, which since June had increased its membership 
from 79 to 114, was soon to be incorporated. What was more, a footing had been 
gained in the important towns of Sunderland and Newcastle, under circumstances 
shortly to be narrated. The outlook had appeared so promising that the Hull December 
Quarterly Meeting determined to send reinforcements, and eight missionaries were now 
at work three North of the Tyne, three at South Shields, and two on the Stockton 
Mission, of whom N. West was one. The Journals of the missionaries show that 
these results had not been accomplished without hard work, often performed under 
trying conditions. A six weeks' storm in the first two months of 1823 had blocked 
the roads with snow-drifts, so as to make travelling hard and risky. For a whole 
week no Western or Northern mails had entered Newcastle, and the inhabitants saw 
with astonishment the South mails carried on the backs of thirteen saddle-horses. 
Travellers found themselves storm-bound in country inns and running short of pro- 
visions, as though they were in a beleaguered fortress. Clowes speaks of having 
witnessed distressing shipwrecks on South Shields sands, and having, at Sunderland, 

* Sykes' " Local Records " refers to this incident of the great storm. Clowes' words are : " We 
therefore contrived to escape by the top of the roof, which lay then on the stair-case, holding ourselves 
by the wall." Some years later than this a Dr. Oxley befriended our cause in London. Whether 
we have here a mere coincidence of name we are unable to determine. The good doctor might 
have removed in the interim. 



offered public thanksgiving on behalf of several sailors who had escaped with their 
lives. And yet, " fair or foul, snow or shine," the missionaries went on with their 
work. We get glimpses of Clowes preaching at North Shields, in New Milburn Place 
and on the New Quay. We see him, in conjunction with John Nelson, visiting 
Newbiggen and Morpeth. Newbiggen was so little accustomed to the Gospel that it 
hardly knew what to make of the evangelists : " Some few gathered round, but others 
stood at a distance as if frightened." At Morpeth they sent the town-crier round, and 
then preached at the Town Cross. " Several did not behave well ; " one man in 
particular raised a clamour, and, from his movements, seemed to be intending an 
onset on the preacher, but Clowes " endeavoured to fix him with his eye, and waited 
upon God." Already we see there were good societies at Percy Main and Benton 

Square. Still, the great ingathering was 
yet to come. Clowes and John Nelson 
both moved off after the Conference of 
1823, and Jeremiah Gilbert, of prison 
fame, was for two years the leading 
missionary of North Shields Circuit. 
He speaks of "our noble chapel," in 
which he began his ministrations. 
Union Street Chapel was centrally 
situated and well attended, but an ad- 
jective more appropriate than "noble" 
might have been found to hit off its 
appearance and character. In the end 
it came to be a burden and an embar- 
rassment. So much was this the case 
that, when Mary Porteus was stationed 
to the circuit in 1836, leave was ob- 
tained for her " to take an extensive 
tour to collect funds through Yorkshire, 
Lincolnshire, and elsewhere where Provi- 
dence might direct." Union Street was 
happily superseded by Saville Street 
Chapel, opened March, 1861, when the 
Rev. Thomas Smith was superintendent. 
Shortly after J. Gilbert's arrival July 20th, 1823 a notable circuit camp meeting 
was held on Scaffold Hill, at which more than twenty persons were converted.* 
Thomas Nelson and George Wallace were two of the six travelling preachers who took 
part. Wallace was a native of the district, who ran his short course from July, 1823, 
to March, 1824, and probably died a martyr to excessive toil. Only a month before 
his death he walked from Wingate to Kirkwhelpington, a distance of seventeen miles, 
in snow and rain, and preached at night. " It put me forcibly in mind," says he, 


* The " Extracts from the Journals of Jeremiah Gilbert " was printed in 1824, at North Shields, 
by J. K. Pollock, Camden Street. 


" of some of the first Methodist preachers and the missionaries. There were great 
mountains, and crags, and burns to go over, which sometimes nearly exhausted my 
strength." When, in December, 1823, Newcastle became an independent circuit and 
Morpeth a branch of'North Shields, there were seven preachers on the ground instead 
of three, and near 800 members where, in March, there had been 335. The anthracite 
had fairly caught fire. From this time Newcastle and North Shields went each its 
own way, and the missionary efforts of the parent circuit had necessarily to be confined 
to the north to the country lying between the Blyth and the Tweed. In this part 
of Northumberland the Connexion has now six stations, all of which can trace their 
descent from North Shields Circuit, viz., Seaton Delaval, Blyth, Ashington, Amble, 
North Sunderland, Lowick, and Berwick. Had success been at all proportionate to- 
the amount of toil expended, Morpeth and Alnwick would have been found in this 
list; for both were early branches of North Shields, though they never grew to be 
circuits, and after a time ceased to be even branches. Morpeth has had a chequered 
history. Beginning as a branch of North Shields, it was afterwards served by Hexham. 
In 1836, with its twenty members, it reverted to North Shields. Much later it was 
remissioned by Blyth, and is now included in Ashington, one of the new progressive 
circuits that owe their rise to the sinking of collieries further north. As for Alnwick, 
the capital of the county, we have nothing to show for some years of labour. We may 
visit the Duke of Northumberland's famous castle, said to be one of the most magnificent 
baronial structures in all England ; but we shall look in vain for a Primitive Methodist 
chapel or preaching-room. And yet, W. Lister, Mary Porteus, and other missionaries 
lived here in the 'Twenties and 'Thirties, and made Alnwick the centre of earnest 
evangelistic efforts. 

Mr. Lister was on the Alnwick branch from January to April, 1829, and again for 
two months in 1830. We give an item from his Journal, which shows that the future 
President and Book Steward could cheerfully endure privations : 

" During the months of July and August (1830), I missioned about a dozen 
of the villages. I often had long journeys, much hard fare, made my breakfast 
and dinner at times by the side of a spring of water, with a pennyworth of bread 
bought at some village shop. Yet these were trifles to what my Master 'had 
to go through in preaching among the villages. The prosperity of the work 
sweetened all." 

The same Journal speaks of a crowded Missionary Meeting held in the Town Hall 
of Alnwick, at which Brothers Herod, Clough, W. Garner, J. Parrott, and W. Lister 
were the speakers. "Next day" (March 2nd, 1830), says Mr. Lister, "I walked, in 
company with the other four brethren, twenty-five miles to Bedlington, where we held 
a Missionary Meeting. Next day walked home [to North Shields] twelve miles."* 

Still the efforts put forth on the somewhat niggard soil in and around Alnwick were 
not altogether in vain, as the biographies and journals of some of the workers show. 
If the societies were numerically feeble, and mostly made up of the poor of this world, 
there were amongst them some men and women of high principle who did no discredit 

* MS. Journals of the Rev. W. Lister. 



to the Connexion. Such, assuredly, was the aged woman, a member of the Alnwick 
society, who, too poor to pay her weekly class-pence, still recognised her Christian 
obligations and, in the spirit of Northumbrian independence, explained to the minister 
who led the class, " I clean the chapel for my privileges" 

The most notable achievement of North Shields Circuit in the early days, was 
undoubtedly, next after the planting of our Church in Newcastle, the missioning of 
Berwick-on-Tweed. The first on the ground was William Clough. He began his 
mission on January 4th, 1829, by preaching on Wallace Green, and also in a large 
room he had taken on rent. During the three months he spent on the mission, 
Mr. Clough established preaching-stations on both sides of the border, instituted 
a Sunday afternoon service at the Town Hall steps, preached to the prisoners in the 
jail, and laid the foundation of the Berwick society. Mr. Lister, who followed him. 
is rightly regarded as having been the maker of Berwick Circuit. He it was who, 

Old Bridge, Berwick-on-Tweed 


building along the lines already laid down, prepared the mission for circuit independence, 
which was granted in 1831. Himself a fruit of the Northern Mission and called into 
the ministry by North Shields, his home-circuit (1827), Mr. Lister seems to have 
understood the Northumbrian and Scottish type of character, with which, indeed, his 
own had many points of affinity. This sympathetic insight of one who was in the 
full vigour of early manhood and prodigal of his strength, made his double term of 
service in Berwick, and his year in Edinburgh (then a branch of Berwick), remarkably 
successful. During his first term of fifteen months in Berwick, he preached every 
Sunday afternoon, from April to September, at the Town Hall steps, often to as many 
as two thousand people. Places as far distant as Kelso, in Scotland, were visited, 
rooms hired, and services, held, with the view, if possible, of establishing new causes. 
A friendly arrangement was entered into by which Wooler and two other societies 


were taken over from the Bible Christians.* A chapel capable of holding six hundred 
people, also a schoolroom and a manse were built (February, 1830) ; and, although the 
debt left on the property afterwards proved burdensome, the acquisition of these 
buildings so soon after the beginning of the mission, was something of a feat. Converts 
were made like W. Fulton and Adam Dodds, both of whom 
afterwards spent two terms of ministerial service in Berwick, 
to the great advantage of the circuit. -Another convert was 
Dr. W. Landells, the once well-known minister of Eegent's Park 
Chapel, who for some time was a local preacher in the Berwick 
Circuit. In 1833, Mr. Lister began his second term of three 
years in the circuit under disheartening conditions. The interests 
of the station had recently suffered from ministerial bickerings, 
of which the public were but too fully aware. The circuit 
had gone backward instead of forward. Retrogression was writ 
large on its poor manuscript plan showing only six places. The one 


chapel of the circuit was in difficulties, the mortgagee threatening 

to foreclose. But the new preacher was known, and received a cordial welcome that 
was of good omen. The same methods which had proved so successful four years before 
were again adopted, with the result that a new era of progress set in. Eyemouth, which 
had been missioned in 1830 and afterwards abandoned, now asked for the resumption 
of services, and in October, 1835, a new chapel was opened for its twenty members. 
In June, 1834, Edinburgh Mission was transferred to Glasgow, and at the following 
Quarter Day Alnwick branch was re-attached to North Shields. When Mr. Lister 
was leaving Berwick in 1836, he could write: "Through the blessing of heaven, we 
leave 120 more members than we found, one new chapel, nineteen places missioned, 
Berwick chapel relieved of its financial difficulties, and all old circuit outstanding 
bills paid off." 

There are one or two peculiarities connected with the planting and subsequent 
history of our Church in north-east Northumberland that may briefly be pointed out. 
One thing we cannot find persecution. More than this : in no other part of England 
did our missionaries receive such civil treatment from all classes, and in none were 
they taken more seriously and listened to more attentively. There were many places in 
England where the missionary no sooner began his service than the bells were set a-ringing 
to drown his voice ; there were still more places where the bells were rung only at the 
prescribed times missionary or no missionary ; but, as far as we are aware, Berwick 
was the only place where the bells were stopped ringing, even at the authorised times, 
so that the open-air service might not be interrupted. Like the Beroeans of old, the 
people of Berwick were "ready to listen, willing to inquire." Probably the attitude 
of the people to our early missionaries may be explained by the extent to which the 
seriousness and thoughtfulness native to the Northumbrian character, have, through 
the long-prevalent influence of Presbyterianism, taken the bent towards a non-priestly 
religion a religion which regards the Bible and pulpit with instinctive reverence. 

* It was a pious female named Mary Ann Weary, from Cornwall, who was the founder of these 
societies. She alleged the mission was begun in obedience to a divine impression. 


Certainly here, if anywhere, the preacher starts with the great initial advantage that 
there is a recognised presumption in his favour, and it will be his own fault if he fails 
to justify that presumption, and does not succeed in turning the sentiment of deference 
into a reasonable and well-grounded respect. 

Hut our history shows that Presbyterianism can take as well as give, and that she 
has enjoyed a large reversionary interest in the evangelistic movements our Church has 
carried on in her midst. From the beginning, Berwick Circuit has given many to 
other communities. Every revival and there have been many of them has enriched 
the Churches. Such was notably the case after the Eyemouth revival of 1859, in 
which the Rev. J. Snaith took a leading part at the beginning of his ministry. No 
doubt the loss was greater in the early days, when chapels were few and accommodation 
scant; but some fruit was lost even after store-rooms were provided. Of course 
statistics are not available. If they were, we venture to say the disclosure would 
be startling as to the number of members and officials of other Churches who received 
their definite call to the Christian life through the agency of Primitive Methodism. 
The late Rev. W. Fulton, writing in 1868, says: "There are no Churches in Berwick, 
the Romanists excepted, which have not benefited by our ministry." What W. Clowes 
said in 1820 applies with special force to Berwick: "It is true we have received 
assistance from our friends by a few class leaders, local preachers, and others coming 
to us ... but for every old sheep received, we have given in lieu at least two 
fat lambs." 

It would be interesting to know how many ministerial probationers have travelled 
the Berwick Circuit and its offshoots, and how many ministers Berwick has pledged 
during the course of its history. In the eighteen years, from 1855 to 1873, the pledges 
of no less than ten ministers were accepted, amongst them those of John Waite, 
John Gill, Hugh Gilmore, and R. G. Graham. A large proportion of the ministers 
of the old Sunderland District had their turn of service in this border region soon 
after they had put on the harness, so that Berwick has been a veritable training-ground 
for the ministry. At first sight there would seem to be little connection between these 
facts and the situation and physical characteristics of the district these young men 
helped to evangelise. But the connection is not difficult to trace ; they are the first 
and last links in a chain of causation. It is the country, such as we find it, that has 
limited the expansion of industrialism and checked the natural growth of population. 
The intermediate links of the chain are obvious enough. Even churches cannot escape 
the working of the laws of political economy. All that can be done is to recognise 
their working and to seek to minimise their disadvantages; and this has been the 
course pursued in relation to Berwick. The industrial revolution which, in other parts 
of the country, has multiplied mines and manufactories, and doubled or trebled the 
population, has done little for Berwick except to draw off and provide work and food 
for its surplus hands and mouths. When we find that Berwick, the chief town of this 
district, had but 679 more inhabitants in 1891 than it had fifty years before,' and that 
in 1891 the population was actually less by 617 than it was in 1881, we can see what 
must have been going on all through these years, and form some idea of the difficulties 
the Churches have had to contend with. We see the youth at the close of his 


apprenticeship moving off to the busy towns on the Tyne or Wear. We see parents, 
anxious to put the means of an assured livelihood within the reach of their rising 
family, migrating to the centres of trade and commerce. It is disheartening to those 
striving to build up strong societies, to find themselves thus seemingly thwarted by 
the laws which control the labour-market. Still it is gratifying to know that in this 
border district the Connexion has held its ground and something more. In 1842 
Berwick had three ministers and 274 members ; now Berwick, and its offshoots, Lowick 
and Xorth Sunderland, together have six ministers and 771 members. 

Besides William Fulton and Adam Dodds, the Berwick Circuit has sent out into the 
ministry others who have long and ably served the Connexion. Among these may be 
named Michael Clarke, and George Lewins who, after forty-one years of labour in 
various parts, still holds his place in the ranks. Michael Clarke was born at Ford Moss, 
and it is interesting to note that John Clarke, one of the Baptist missionaries banished 
from Fernando Po in 1858, was his uncle. Mr. Clarke was called out by the Berwick 
Circuit, and in 1853 went out to Melbourne to take the place of John Ride. After 
an absence of more than a quarter of a century he revisited England, and the 


Conference of 1879, recognising the distinguished service he had rendered Australian 
Primitive Methodism, elected him as its Vice-President. He was superannuated in 
1885 and died 1892. 

Of the Berwick laymen who have " obtained a good report," we can but refer to 
one or two. James Young with a considerable dash of eccentricity, and Michael Clarke 
of Belfort, were both notable men. John Brown of Ancroft was a fine specimen of 
a border tenant-farmer broad-shouldered and broad-minded, to whom the eyes of men 
turned as one in every way fitted to represent the people at Westminster, though 
Sir Edward Grey eventually became the accepted candidate. Mr. Brown was, for 
many years, a conspicuous and devoted worker for our cause. The Allerdean church 
stands as his memorial. Of Mr. George Jobson, who for forty years was a local 
preacher and leading official of the Berwick Circuit, the Rev. H. Yooll (2) (who knew 
him well) says : "He was one of the best fruits of our work in Berwick at a com- 
paratively early day, when loyalty to the cause was often tested severely. His 
outstanding characteristics were zeal and generosity. The Berwick Circuit covered 
then what is now the area of three circuits, and Mr. Jobson was one of its tireless 




workers. In its somewhat varying fortunes he was ever the same devoted son and 
servant of our Church. His two sons are local preachers with us." 

We return to the " old North Shields Circuit " as, in order to distinguish it from 
the truncated circuit of to-day, it is often familiarly called. The constituent societies 
of the old circuit were diversified in character. They were not all of the same cast 
or complexion. The circuit-town a considerable seaport and 
the river-side societies had their distinctive features. Cullercoats, 
two miles away, was a typical fishing village ; while an ever- 
enlarging proportion of the societies was found in the mining 
villages to the north of the Tyne. 

Amongst the officials of an early date resident in North Shields 
were Messrs. Stephen Knott, John Foster, and James Hall. Two 
men who at a later time came to the front and took a prominent 
part in the management of affairs, were Messrs. John Spence and 
Thomas Smith. Mr. Spence began life as a working miner at 
Percy Main, but set up in business for himself and, by dint of 
push and ability, raised himself to a good social position ; in 
the end becoming an alderman and chief magistrate of the borough. Mr. Spence 
was full of vitality ; without being intellectual or making any pretensions to culture, 
he had an alert intelligence. He was genial, jocose, ready to show hospitality, and 
both had it in his power and inclination to be helpful to the society and circuit. 
As circuit steward and chapel treasurer his capabilities for business found full 
scope, while he also filled the offices of leader and Sunday School superintendent. 
Mr. Thomas Smith was a man of a very different type, both in appearance and 
still more in mental constitution and temperament. With no imagination to speak 
of, he had an original and vigorous mind that in its workings occasionally threw 
off sparks of grim humour. Had he but had the advantage of thorough mental 
discipline in his youth, there is no telling what he might have become or achieved. 
Even as it was he could not help being a philosopher in his way, 
a solid preacher, and a man of weight in the counsels of the 
Church. Moreover, he and his excellent wife having leisure 
at command, were indefatigable in the more private walks of 
usefulness. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith had an unyielding and 
somewhat passional nature. As a retired blacksmith, he might 
not unfittingly have adopted as his own the family motto: "You 
may break but cannot bend me." As Mr. Spence, too, had also 
the defect of his qualities, in a certain over-sensitiveness, it is not 
to be wondered at that these two estimable men were sometimes 
in opposition and that the result was friction, from which, now and 
again during the years, North Shields has unhappily suffered. 

The loss of Thomas Nightingale is too recent, and the man himself too widely 
known, to require much to be said of him here. As one who was frequently elected 
to attend the Conference assemblies, and who invariably drew large audiences on 
the Conference Camp-ground ; as one too, who ran for the Vice-presidency of the 



Conference, and was selected as a morning speaker at the Metropolitan Missionary 
meeting, he had deservedly achieved a considerable Connexional reputation. In the 
years to come he will be ranked with the original and popular preachers of his day, 
and his sayings and doings will enrich the traditions of our Northern churches. 

Another valuable official was Mr. Joseph Salkeld, a Cumbrian by birth, who, after 
some years' residence in Newcastle, settled at Howden-on-Tyne, where he and his 
worthy wife strict though kind dispensed hospitality, and were a stay and help to 
the church. Mr. Salkeld was a healthy-minded, sunshiny Christian, the influence 
of whose life "did good like a medicine," purging the mind of blacjc vapours, and 
causing others to look out on life as smilingly as he looked on it himself. He was 
a frequent platform speaker as well as preacher and, being full of humour and having 
a rich repertory of anecdotes, his speeches were lively and entertaining. How often 
his, "This reminds me of an anecdote," was the introduction to some reminiscence 
of the past that had its lesson, though no disparagement, for the present. 

Many years ago, John Barnard and J. H. Jopling as youths bowed at the penitent- 
form at Percy Main, along with some ten others. The former was called into the 





ministry (1857) by Berwick Circuit. After travelling a few years he settled down in 
his native circuit, and as a local preacher rendered extensive and valuable service* for 
a long series of years. Benjamin Hall, his early guide and mentor, still survives as 
the doyen of the North Shields Circuit local preachers. So, happily, does J. H. Jopling 
who, full of good works, holds a secure and lasting place in the affections of preachers 
and people. There are many others who in the quieter walks of usefulness have 
served the interests of these river-side churches families like the Dodds, the Jewels, 
the Grants, the Nicholsons, the Rutherfords ; and men like J. Spoor, H. B. Thompson, 
E,. Holden, and Richard Raine. Of the last-named two, a further word must be 
written. Mr. R. Holden decided for Christ at a famous camp-meeting at Dye House, 
in the Hexham Circuit. In early life he was associated in his employment with 
Dr. Joseph Parker. He afterwards removed to Chirton, and then to North Shields, 
where, for thirty years, he pursued the even tenor of his way, filling at one time or 
another important Church and civic offices, and living a blameless and most useful 
life. Richard Raine "the famous Primitive singer and beau ideal choir-master" 
spent the declining years of his life in North Shields. When in the hey-day of his 

M 2 



powers, he was known far and wide as the man to head the van of a procession, and 
he had led the singing at many a historic camp-meeting. To the end, although " the 
daughters of music were brought" somewhat "low," he retained his enthusiasm for 
sacred song. Assuredly, with a soul so full of music, he is now right amongst the 
"harpers harping with their harps." 

The society at Cullercoats offered a pleasing variety to the church-life of the circuit. 
When first missioned, and for some years after, Cullercoats was, as we have said 
a typical fishing-village. Its fishermen were hardy, adventurous, and industrious ; and 
their women-folk, clad in the characteristic garb of their class, were as picturesque figures 
as the Scots' fishwives, whom in many respects they resembled. Like their norther 


sisters, they toiled hard, taking quite their full share of work as bread-winners for the 
family. Not only did they look after their households, but they mended the nets, 
gathered bait, and, above all, they vended the fish. Often might they be seen in 
North Shields, and even in Newcastle, bending under the weight of three or four 
stones of fish, carried on their backs in wicker-baskets or " creels," and their cry of 
" caller herring " was as striking as their appearance. The fishing-people of Cullercoats 
were clannish, and intermarried so closely that the surnames were few and, for the 
purpose of identification, nicknames had to be used. In the early 'Sixties, it was 
said there were six John Taylors in the village, who had severally to be distinguished 
by a sobriquet. Some of the primitive simplicity and old-world customs which once 



prevailed may have vanished before the sure oncoming of modern fashions. Cullercoats 
itself has undergone great changes so as scarcely to know itself. Railway facilities 
and its nearness to Newcastle have transformed it into a residential neighbourhood, 
and into a popular sea-side resort. The extent of the change effected may be partly 
measured by the material advance our Church has made in the village ; for Primitive 
Methodism has done much for the fishermen. From the beginning probably in the 
early 'Forties it got a good hold of them. Its ministrations suited them and helped 
them, and the experience of Filey was repeated in the moral transformation of the 
fishermen and their families. At first, services were held in a chapel, jointly used 
strange to say by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists each of the three 


denominations conducting one Sunday service therein. In the end, the Primitives 
were left sole occupants of the chapel. The cause prospered. Visitors were attracted 
to "the Fishermen's Chapel," so much so that the chapel became quite an institution 
in the village, and it got to be considered quite the correct thing to join in its worship. 
Visitors admired the heartiness of the services; they liked the look of the fisher- 
people, who came in numbers, all clad in their Sunday best, and they liked the way 
in which they threw themselves into the service. It was a new and piquant experience 
to listen to such preachers as Thomas Wandless and Thomas ^Nightingale ; so that 
when the visitors went back to the big town, the word was passed round : " When 
you go to Cullercoats, you must be sure to attend 'the Fishermen's Chapel.'" This is 


no fancy-sketch, for we write from a four years' experience 1867-71. It was decided 
the time had come for enlargement; whereupon, ladies of various denominations 
co-operated with the society in raising 400 by a bazaar, and in 1868 the chapel was 
rebuilt. That chapel, which may be seen in our picture, is still used as a school and 
lecture-hall; and, hard, there stands a new chapel capable of accommodating 
five hundred people, which was opened in 1899. 

In the march of improvement quite a new village or town has sprung up at the 
adjoining Whitley Bay, with scarcely any religious provision for the residents. Here, 
under the superintendency of Rev. G. F. Johnson, a handsome and commodious church 
was erected in 1904, at a total cost, including laud, of 3,200. We leave Cullercoats 
and its record of progress, just noting the fact that George Dodds, of Newcastle the 
trusty comrade of George Charlton in the temperance crusade in the evening of his 
life, came to reside amongst the Cullercoats fishermen, and worked for and with them ; 
and here, too, Rev. James Young has chosen to locate, after forty-four years' faithful 
and fruitful ministerial service ; here, too, Alexander Petticrow, who has been called 
the "Billy Bray of Cullercoats," ended his days. In a recess of 
these sea-cliffs he found sanctification, and in these streets he 
witnessed for God.* 

Turning now to the colliery societies of the old North Shields 
Circuit, we find they have all along been a growingly important 
factor in its life ; so much so, that the administrative changes 
which have taken place in the circuit its divisions and sub- 
divisions have been largely the result of the working of this 
factor. This is seen in the next important organic change which 
took place in the circuit after Berwick was parted with. This 
was the formation of Blyth, first into a branch, and afterwards, 


under the guidance of Rev. James Jackson " an able administrator 
and an excellent preacher" t into an independent station. Blyth had beenremissioned 
early in the 'Thirties, but had encountered reverses largely due, we are told, to Church 
dissensions ; the chapel became involved, and was ultimately lost to the Connexion. 
But Blyth was destined to become the head of a vigorous circuit, and, what is more, 
to become the parent of circuits. The opening of new collieries greatly increased the 
population of the neighbourhood. Blyth became the centre of a new colliery district, and, 
more and more, a port of shipment for coals. It is significant that the year when Blyth 
was made into a station was also the year when Thomas Burt, then a working miner at 
Choppington, was appointed the Secretary of the Northumberland Miners' Union ; nor 
less significant is it that, largely by the votes of the miners, he was, in 1874, returned 
to Parliament for the Morpeth Division. These facts point to the growing influence of 
the miners in the district ; and the reference to Thomas Burt is not out of place ; for 
besides his early association with C. C. McKechnie, and others of our ministers in the 
old North Shields Circuit, he was, during his residence in Blyth, the close friend of 

* See Rev. S. Horton's article on him in Aldersgate, 1901, p. 219. 

fttev. C. C. McKechnie's MS. Autobiography. For a reference to the troubles in Blyth, see 

" The Earnest Preacher," p. 125. Joseph Spoor resided at Blyth in 1845. 



Hugh Gilmore, and, in association with him and men of kindred spirit, such as Robert 
Lawther and William Bell, took part in many a local fight for truth and righteousness. 
In this part of the country, at least, our Church has developed with the development of 
the coal-trade, and has attended upon its movements. The sinking of a pit has always 
meant the establishment of a society ; for, amongst the sinkers and miners drawn to the 
spot, were sure to be some Primitive Methodists, who might be counted upon to abide 
true to their Church, and who, if there were no society already, would see to it that one 
was founded. So the expansion of the coal-trade, as also its northward drift, go far to 
explain the history of our Church in South-East Northumberland. Seaton Delaval, which 
had no existence when Clowes missioned North Shields or Benton Square, becomes, 


in 1875, the Seaton Delaval Circuit. Ashington, too, made a circuit in 1896 with 
405 members, was the creation of the coal trade, and received many colonists from 
North Shields men like the Gregorys, the Crawfords, the Mains, and many besides. 
Amble Circuit, formed in 1897, is the last outcome of this process. Here extension 
is taking place. A new iron church has been put up at Radcliffe, and Greyton, 
a new colliery district of 2000 inhabitants, has been missioned with every prospect 
of success. 

There is nothing particularly prepossessing about the pit villages of Northumberland, 
or any other county. They have features in common familiar to most of us. We can 
see the rectangular rows of cottages, each one outwardly like its neighbour, the inevitable 



piu-shaft and engine-house and waggon-way. But nowhere more than amid such 
depressing surroundings may a man find more use for the second of the two sights God 
has given him. Here, if anywhere, "among the angular marks of men's handiwork," 
Sir Arthur Helps' reflection seems very much to the purpose : " The painter hurries by 
the place ; the poet, too, unless he is a very philosophic one, passes shuddering by. 
But, in reality, what forms of beauty, in conduct, in suffering, in endeavour ; what 
tragedies, what romances; what foot-prints, as it were, angelic and demoniac now 
belong to that spot."* Whatever the painter and the poet may do, a Primitive 
Methodist need not hurry through this district ; for human traits, and mementos 
honourable to his Church, are afforded by every pit-village of old standing hereabout. 


Here, for example, is Old Cramlington Colliery. What memories are recalled by the 
view of its singular old chapel given in the text ! It was at an exciting missionary 
meeting, held here in 1843, the idea of a New Zealand Mission was first broached the 
mission to be sustained by the Sunday Schools of the Connexion. The memorial sent 
from that meeting had its influence. The idea caught on, and, as we shall see, the 
New Zealand Mission was begun in 1844. 

We pass on to Seaton Delaval. Here, in 1859, exasperated by their grievances, the 
miners struck work without due notice having first been given. In consequence, eight 

* " Companions of My Solitude," p. 241. 


men were sentenced at Xortli Shields to 'two months' imprisonment. These were 
amongst the most intelligent men on the colliery ; they were all teetotallers, and they 
ha-J all been opposed to the strike. Of the eight victims, four at least were Primitive 
Methodists, viz., Anthony Bolam, Alexander Watson, Henry Bell, and Robert Burt. 
Henry Bell was a man in many ways remarkable for his intellectuality, his character, 
and the physical suffering he was called to endure. Robert Burt, the uncle of Thomas 
Burt, M.P., was arrested when kneeling by the bedside of his wife, who was sick unto 
death. When the manager was expostulated with for putting in prison the very men 
who had opposed the strike, and were the most respectable and law-abiding men they 
had at the colliery, he replied : " I know that ; and that is what I have put them in 
for. It is of no use putting those in who cannot feel." 

As you go eastward from Seaton Delaval, you soon come to New Hartley, a name 
recalling one of the most appalling colliery disasters of modern times. The sight of the 
broken beam of the pumping-engine is indeed a grim memento ; for, by the breaking of 
that ponderous shaft, in January, 1862, four hundred and two men and boys lost their 
lives. We refer to one incident -and to one only in that long-drawn-out tragedy, 
because it shows how grace, in the persons of some of our co-religionists, could assert 
itself as a conquering and sustaining power in a situation dire and desperate. On the 
body of the back-overman there was afterwards found this memorandum, roughly 
pencilled on a piece torn from a newspaper : 

" Friday afternoon, at half-past two. 

"Edward Armstrong, Thomas Gledston, John Hardy, Thomas Bell, and others, 
took extremely ill. We also had a prayer-meeting at a quarter to two, when 
Tibbs, Henry Sharp, J. Campbell, Henry Gibson, and William G. Palmer [exhorted]. 
Tibbs exhorted us again, and Sharp also." 

Four of these who preached "as dying men to dying men" were our brethren; 
William Tibbs being a class-leader at New Hartley, and Henry Sharp, Chapel Steward 
at Old Hartley. 

The old North Shields Circuit has had its vicissitudes. By the disastrous "long 
strike" of 1844, which lasted eighteen weeks, the societies were almost wrecked. The 
miners were ejected from their homes, and had to camp in the lanes, or where they 
could. But if the societies have at times been " minished and brought low," they have 
also had their seasons of revival and replenishment, as the following extract from 
Rev. C. C. McKechnie's MS. autobiography, referring to the great revival of 1867, 
will show : 

" Contemporaneous with this great and good work in the town [of North Shields], 
a similar work was going on all over the circuit. I am not aware that a single 
place in the circuit failed to share in the marvellous visitation. Such places as 
Seaton Delaval, Cramlington, Dudley, Howden, Cullercoats, where we had a good 
staff of workers, and a considerable population, reaped the largest harvest. The 
revival scenes at these places were often glorious. They cannot, indeed, be 
described without using language that would appear extravagant. Often when 
I have seen crowds, yea, crowds of men and women flocking to the penitents' form, 
and with strong crying and tears pleading with God for mercy, I have felt utterly 



broken down. The whole countryside was moved. It almost seemed as if the 
Millennium was rushing upon us, and as if the entire population were being 
enclosed in the gospel-net." 

This witness is true, as the present writer can avouch. The numerical returns for the 
North Shields Circuit for 1868-9 show an increase of six hundred members for the 
two years. 

To give pen-and-ink sketches of the worthies of this part of the old North Shields 
Circuit is impossible, and we shall not attempt it. The portraits of two or three, out 
of scores equally worthy, will be found in the text. Fain would we have given 
one of Thomas Wandless, the eccentric and popular local preacher; but here are 
Thomas Gleghorn, of whom Rev. S. Horton has written an appreciative sketch ; * good 
John Bell, of Dudley, and his saintly wife, whom the Vice-President of the Conference 
of 1903 is proud to claim as his parents; and Matthew Lowther, of West Cramlington, 
afterwards of Chertsey, father of Alderman Lowther, J.P., of Brighton. 





The claim is here made that our Church has materially assisted the miners of 
Northumberland and Durham in working out their temporal as well as spiritual 
salvation, and that among them as a class may be found some of the choicest samples 
of the fruit of our labours. This is the claim made, and it is a large one. But, large 
though it be, the claim is conceded by those best qualified to pronounce j udgment 
according to the facts with which they are fully conversant. One such expert witness 
is Principal Fairbairn, who recently wrote : 

" The Primitive Methodist Church has without aid from taxes or rates, achieved 
for the godly manhood of the miners in Northumberland and Durham more than 
could be achieved had all the schools been non-provided, all the teachers been 
appointed by the Church, and all the atmosphere carefully regulated by the 
local clergy, "t 
Another witness tells the story of the long, unequal struggle carried on by the miners 

* Aldersgate Magazine, 1896, p. 616. 
t Letter in " The Pilot," January 16th, 1904. 


of both counties to free themselves from galling and impoverishing disabilities from 
the yearly bond, the truck system, the employment of boys in the pits for as many as 
seventeen or eighteen hours at a stretch, and other grievances too numerous to be 
particularised. The struggle, he shows, was often attended with reverses, and the 
leaders in that struggle not infrequently became marked men and had to suffer the loss 
of employment, or in other ways were " made an example of." The first attempt to 
form a union for self-protection, made in 1830 by Thomas Hepburn, a local preacher,* 
ultimately failed. But still the struggle went on until political emancipation was 
won, one grievance after another redressed, the Miners' Permanent Relief Fund 
established, the Mines Regulation Act (1872) passed, and strong unions formed both 
in Northumberland and Durham, with Thomas Burt and William Crawford both of 
Primitive Methodist extraction and training as their secretaries and paid Parliamentary 
representatives. As we follow the moving story, it is significant that we are continually 
meeting with names already familiar to us in our Church-records, showing that those 
who were prominent workers in the various societies had come to be, by virtue of their 
character and ability as speakers, the recognised leaders in the struggle for the rights 
of labour. And they were moderators as well as leaders in the struggle ; for there were 
amongst their followers exasperated men smarting under their wrongs, and there were 
also no inconsiderable number of young hot-bloods, as well as a sprinkling of men of 
little principle, to whom Revolution delusively promised quick and large returns, while 
the methods of Reform seemed tame in comparison and slow in yielding but meagre 
results. For all this, the leaders, being for the most part Christian men, and shrewd 
and patient withal, set themselves resolutely to withstand the temptation to resort to 
violent and illegal methods; and the cause they championed was, in the end, the gainer 
by their self-restraint and wise leadership, though in many cases the reward came too 
late to be of any use to them who had earned it. It is a posthumous honour we pay 
them. All this Mr. Fynes tells us in his book,t and then, in closing his retrospect of 
the long struggle, he pays a tribute to the work of our Church, only part of which 
we can quote here : 

" Unsatisfactory though the moral and intellectual condition of the miner to-day 
is [1873], yet, compared with his condition at the period treated in the opening 
chapters of this book, there is a miraculous change. Side by side with the Union 
the earnest men who have been stigmatised ' Ranters ' the Primitive Methodists 
of the two counties have been working out the social, intellectual, and moral 
amelioration of the miners, and in this great reform they have been very 
materially assisted by the temperance advocates who have from time to time 

* " When a mass meeting on Shadin's Hill was threatened by the Marquis of Londonderry and 
a regiment of soldiers, the miners had already raised their muskets, and in a moment or two 
a massacre would have begun, but for Thomas Hepburn, a local preacher, who cried out : ' Make 
way for His Majesty's troops.'" Hon. E. Eichardson, of Australia, in the "Primitive Methodist 
Quarterly Eeview." We mistrust the reference to the miners' muskets and the threatened massacre. 
There is, however, no reason to doubt the substantial accuracy of the story. 

t " The Miners of Northumberland and Durham. A History of their Social and Political 
Struggles. By Eichard Fynes." Blyth, 1873. 


laboured amongst the miners. . . . Probably no body of men have ever been 
subjected to so many jibes and jeers from superficial people as those referred to ; 
but without doubt none ever achieved such glorious results as they have done. 
To many it may be a matter of supreme indifference what is the exact creed 
professed by Primitive Methodists ; but whether they have a creed or none at all, 
it is impossible for any observing man not to see and admire the bold and ardent 
manner in which they carry on their labour amongst the miners." (Pp. 282 3). 

It is much to be wished that Mr. John Wilson, M.P., or other competent person, 
would so set forth the facts known or accessible to them, as once for all to make good 
Mr. Wilson's own statement : " There has been no more potent factor in the moral 
uplifting of the population of our pit-villages than Primitive Methodism."* For 
ourselves, we have said all that space permits us to say on the general question, and 
cannot, except incidentally, recur to it. Possibly, enough has been written to show 
that, while our Church has done much for the evangelisation of the mining villages 
of the North, it has also at the same time been largely helping forward the advance 
economic, political, intellectual of the miners and their families. Even yet much 
ameliorative work remains to be done, and the fervent evangelic impulse that helped 
our fathers is still the all-essential qualification for enabling us to repeat the triumphs 
of the past. That is still primary ; the rest is secondary, and will follow. Such is 
the lesson taught us even by the secular press. When, in 1875, the jubilee of the 
opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway was being celebrated, an able writer 
probably Mr. W. T. Stead passed in review the changes effected during the fifty years. 
In assigning the causes of these gratifying changes he singles out for special mention 
the labours of the early Primitive Methodist preachers. 

" One cause," says he, " of this great change had nothing to do with the railway. 
To the advent of the Primitive Methodists in the North Country is due much 
of the transformation undoubtedly effected in the latter part of the first quarter 
of the century. The ' Ranters,' as they were then universally called, had to bear 
a good deal of ridicule and opprobrium, but that has long since been forgotten in 
the good which they effected. The accounts published at the time concerning the 
results produced by their ministrations among the semi-savage colliers of the 
North remind us of the glowing narratives of the most successful missionaries, 
and make us sigh for the dawn of another great religious awakening which would 
empty the publics of Bishop Auckland, and convert the rowdies of Spennymoor 
into local preachers." 


Newcastle is a very different town to-day from what it was in 1821, when 
John Branfoot preached near Sandgate. How different we shall find it hard to 
conceive. It is only by an effort that we can picture it as a town only one fourth 
its present size, with no Stephenson's High Level spanning the gorge of the Tyne, 
and wanting those stately and ornate buildings with which the skill and enterprise 
of one man enriched it. What Haussmann did for Paris, that Richard Grainger 
(1798 1861), a man of lowly origin, did for Newcastle. It was old Newcastle he 

* Alder sgate Magazine, 1896 (p. 690). 



found in 1834 ; he left it modern Newcastle. We have nothing to do with the story 
of Newcastle's progress from comparative mediae valism to modernism, except in so 
far as that progress is reflected in the history of our own church-life. It may be 
a mere coincidence but, nevertheless, it affords a convenient date-mark to note that 
by taking possession of Nelson Street Chapel in 1838, the first period of old Primitive 
Methodism in Newcastle came to its end. More than that : Nelson Street was built 
by Richard Grainger, as was also the chapel we took possession of. It dovetailed 
into his scheme of architectural reconstruction. Our occupancy of Nelson Street Chapel 
for some sixty years, was co-eval with a second long and somewhat uneventful period 
of church-life ; but by the acqiiisition of the Central Church in 1897, a great step 

From an old Engraving. 

forward was taken, in which we may, if we choose, fancy a correspondence to the 
elevation of Newcastle to the rank of a city and bishop's see. True ; we have no 
dioceses, and do not believe in bishops, but these things may afford a shadowy analogue 
of the fact that the one original Newcastle Circuit has at last become a group of circuits, 
and that the central city-church stands there in the midst primus inter pares. 
Unmistakeably, the three periods are there, and these are what we have briefly 
to consider. 

It was only on July 29th, 1822, that Clowes formed the first society of ten members 
at Ballast Hills. Shortly after, others are " added to the Church," and he records that 
"some of the worst characters are turning to God here." On October 20th, 1822, the 
Butcher's Hall, in the Friars, was opened as a preaching-room, and in December, 1823, 
through the labours, especially of the men already mentioned, this side of the North 


Shields Circuit became the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Circuit, with three preachers to work 
it. On April 4th, 1824, the old Sallyport chapel, previously occupied by the Scotch 
Church, was opened by J. Gilbert from North Shields, J. Branfoot from South Shields, 
and N. West from Sunderland. The last-named says : " It was a high day : five souls 
professed to find the Lord, besides many more who were in distress." Still the cause 
moved on surely if steadily. There was not the rush and roar of a great conflagration 
like that which, in 1854, half devastated Gateshead and Newcastle ; yet the anthracite 
glowed. What J. Spencer wrote in June, 1824, expressed no mere passing phase 
of the religious life of the circuit but one of its characteristic traits : " There is," says 
he, " no particular revival, but the work is going pleasingly on." Progress was marked 
by the securing of a chapel in Silver Street, vacated by the Congregationalists. The 
street was silvern only in name, as many Silver Streets are; and the chapel itself 
needed considerable repairs which, it is said, the Rev. S. Tillotson, the superintendent, 
took off his coat to assist in effecting. Still, the chapel was fairly commodious, and 
for twelve years 1826-38 Silver Street was the chief centre of our church-life in 
Newcastle. How much is implied in this bald statement which cannot be drawn out 




in detail ! Some idea of what was accomplished during these formative years may, 
however, be gained from the plan of the Newcastle Circuit for April to July, 1837, 
which now lies before us. The ten members of 1822 have now become 1028, of which 
number 371 are included in the Gateshead Circuit, in this year detached from 
Newcastle. The plan shows twenty-eight preaching-places, of which Silver Street, 
Ballast Hills, and three open-air preaching-stands are in the town proper, while three 
or four others on the outskirts of the town are also supplied with preaching. The 
Circuit includes Westmoor and Wallsend, and extends to places as far away as 
Medomsley and Wallbottle, Wylam and Shotley Bridge. The plan shows four 
travelling-preachers, of whom one is down for the "Scotch Mission," i.e., Dundee 
and sixty-two local preachers and exhorters. Besides these, we recall the fact that 
other labourers have been raised up, and they amongst the most capable and useful, 
whose names we do not find here because they have gone forth to wider service. 
Among these we recall John Lightfoot and Mary Porteus; Joseph Spoor and his 
sister, Jane Spoor, who will afterwards become the wife of Mr. Ralph Cook (himself 


for many years a prominent layman of the Newcastle Circuit), and the mother-in-law 
of Dr. Watson; Thomas Jobling, too, was converted in 1828, and has entered the 
ministry, and will ultimately become General Missionary Secretary ; John Matfin, 
who was converted at Sallyport Chapel in 1824, is now in the ministerial ranks, 
and also G. S. Butter wick, one of the firstfruits of the Newcastle Mission. Thomas 
Butterwick will soon follow him, and become one of the best and ablest of our 
early preachers. These are some of the results of the years which the plan fails 
to register. 

As we glance over the long list of preachers, we notice the names of some who, in 
1837, had already "purchased to themselves a good degree" ; and we also recognise the 
names of others who, during the next period, will come to the front and play their part. 
Here, for example, are the names of W. B. Leighton and Peter Kidman, who had already 
begun their long and honourable connection with the Newcastle Circuit. Both joined 
the Ballast Hills Society at or soon after its formation, and did not cease to serve the 
Church until the year 1884. As they were companions in service, so in their deaths 
they were not divided.* Every organised form of local Christian philanthropy had 
Mr. Leighton's countenance and co-operation, so that his life was one of manifold 
activity. He was not eloquent by nature or a skilful debater, but just a constant, 
cheerful worker on behalf of deserving causes. The good work, however, for which he 
merits special remembrance in this connection was the starting, in 1829, of a Sunday 
School at Ballast Hills. Of this he was the superintendent for the long space of 
fifty-nine years. After its formation the school grew until it had five hundred scholars 
and sixty teachers. It had its branches, to one of which the present St. Anthony's 
Society can trace its origin. Neglected children and youths were gathered in ; a library 
got together, a Mutual Improvement Society established, and Temperance and habits 
of thrift encouraged. Amid such influences as these many a young man had his 
intellect quickened and disciplined for service. The Revs. John Davison, the biographer 
of Clowes, and Thomas Greenfield, were two of many who had a new direction given 
to their lives by this Sunday School. About the year 1830 Mr. Leighton, then only 
a young man himself, invited a youth who was playing at pitch-and-toss to go with 
him to the school hard by. The youth yielded to persuasion kindly given, and from 
that simple incident Thomas Greenfield was accustomed to date his conversion. Then 
began, on his part, that coiirse of mental cultivation which in the end qualified him 
to become a College tutor and Principal, and made him an expository preacher of rare 
excellence. Thirty years after Mr. Leighton won this youth for his Master, the like 
process was repeated, and with the same happy results. This time it was William 
Pears whose name stands No. 35 on the plan of 1837 who induced his young 
lodger to accompany him to Ballast Hills Chapel. That youth was Hugh Gilmore, 
than whom our Church can show no more interesting figure. But at that time the 
youth, though a lad of parts, was poor, untaught, and undeveloped as a lion's cub. 
He went, and went again, to Ballast Hills, and soon " experienced a complete awakening." 

* Their memoirs, written by Rev. H. Yooll, will be found side by side in the " Supplementary 
Connexional Biographj r ," issued December, 1885. 




Hu"h Gilmore never forgot Ballast Hills or its Bible class, of which Rev. T. Greenfield 
was now the President. Nor did he forget William Pears ; for in the last sermon he 
preached, June 7th, 1891, he thus refers to him: "I lived with a plain, poor man, 
whose name was perhaps unknown beyond the people in the little row of cottages 

where we dwelt. I felt that there was something 
about that man not from any natural cause that 
made him separate from the men with whom I was 

God's promise is "seed for the sower" as well as 
" bread for the eater " ; so it is instructive to note 
how in Newcastle, as elsewhere, provision was made 
for our Church's perpetuity and enlargement, as 
well as for the daily needs of those composing its 

With the acquisition in 1838 of Nelson Street 
Chapel, Newcastle Primitive Methodism entered upon 
the second period of its history, destined to last for 
forty years. Mr. Clowes had founded the first society 
in the town, and it was but fitting that he should, on 
November 21st, 1837, lay the foundation-stone of this 
historic building. " The chapel was consecrated before it was built"; so spoke the feeling 
of some who had come under the influence of his address and dedicatory prayer. The 
chapel was duly opened on the 7th and 12th of October, 1838, by Revs. W. Sanderson, 
J. Bywater, and H. Hebbron. Its cost was 2,950, and even after the opening services, 
there remained a debt of 2,000 on the building. It was a bold venture to make. 
To come out of Silver Street and plant themselves down within the area of the town 
improvements, as though they were smitten with the architectural fever then raging ; 
and for this to be done, with all the responsibility involved, by men none of whom 
could give more than a donation of five pounds without a monetary strain all this 
was quite enough to give rise to unfavourable comments and head-shakings. So it 
was ; for one whose memory goes back to that time tells us : " The erection of Nelson 
Street Chapel produced great excitement. . . . Some, of course, thought it very wrong 
to build such a costly edifice and leave Silver Street Chapel, which was greatly needed 
in that wicked part of the town."* But the men on the Trust, if not moneyed men, 
were men of faith and courage, and not wanting either in good-sense and practical 
discernment. They believed the time had come for a forward movement, and so they 
acted in accordance with the old "dour" saying inscribed on the walls of Marischal 
College, Aberdeen : " They say. What say they 1 Let them say," and they stopped 
short with no half measures. 

When, in 1897, Nelson Street Chapel had been sold and possession was taken of 
the Central Church, Northumberland Road, not one of the trustees of Nelson Street 
remained ; all had passed away. For once, it will be well to give the names of these 

* Dr. Edw. Barrass : "Reminiscences of Primitive Methodism Forty Years Ago," Aldersgaie 
Magazine, 1894, p. 527. 




fifteen, because among them are the names of many who carried on the work of the 
church during the years that followed. Speaking generally, their character was marked 
by stability, which largely contributed to give stability and a certain recognised type 
and tradition to the church to which they belonged. When death came as come it 
did sooner or later it found most of these men still at their 
posts. It is not often this can be said of so large a proportion 
of the signatories of an early trust-deed. The fact, thus lightly 
glanced at, is an important one for the understanding of the history 
of Nelson Street in its mid-period. The names of the Trustees 
were : John Scott, George Charlton, Joseph Salkeld [afterwards 
of Howden], David Keell, Robert Barron, Ralph Cooke, John 
Taylor, Andrew Me Cree, Thomas Me Cree, William Armstrong, 
W. B. Leighton, Edward Holmes, George Dodds, James Thompson, 
George Moore, Robert Foster, J. Lockey, Joseph Pattinson, 
R. Robson, James Stewart, and James Gibson. John Scott and 
John Taylor are names found in this list. The influence their 
high character and fair social position gave them was profitable for the Church. 
William Armstrong was a man of meek and gentle spirit, kindly disposed, and a sweet 
preacher. Edward Holmes was a familiar figure for many years. The writer, who 
as Newcastle Circuit's " young man," spent three years under his roof, gladly bears 
witness to his piety and solid qualities. Robert Foster, sen., was quiet, unassuming, 
intelligent, and an acceptable pulpit man. He and his wife were amongst the first 
victims of the cholera scourge in 1853 ; for, just as London had its year of the great 
plague followed by the great fire of 1666, so, on a smaller scale, had Newcastle in 
1853 and 1854; and, in this dread visitation, the angel of death did not pass by our 
Church. Mr. and Mrs Scott were also amongst the fifteen hundred who were stricken 
down in that fatal September. For many years Andrew Me Cree, as Circuit Steward 
and Sunday School superintendent, was a leading figure at Nelson Street. Though 
built on hard lines and wanting in flexibility, a stickler for rule and a martinet in 
discipline, he was an able man and a diligent and conscientious official, and it was 
wonderful to see how, as the end was approached, his character 
mellowed and softened. 

Undoubtedly, George Charlton's is the best-known name in the 
list of men of the middle period. C. C. McKechnie, who spent 
three terms of service in Newcastle, says truly of him : 

" He had altogether a striking presence. Though not a deep 
thinker, nor given to abstract or speculative inquiries, he 
had a mind of great activity and force. His mind was 
eminently practical. He took a deep interest in the social, 
political, and religious movements of the day. Among 
temperance advocates he stood in the foremost rank. He 
was a most effective temperance speaker. Dealing with 
facts which could not be gainsaid, and putting his arguments and appeals in the 
plainest and strongest light, and speaking with the fervour of deep conviction, 
he usually made a powerful impression, and carried his audience with him. He 




seemed specially fitted and intended for temperance work. Let it also be said, 
however, that he rendered signal service to the cause of religion. As leader, local 
preacher, Conference delegate, he made himself felt as a power for good. He was 
one of the best men I ever met with for open-air services. He never appeared 
more in his element than when taking part in leading a procession, or in preaching 
at a camp meeting. He was a leal-hearted, loyal Primitive, proud of his Church, 
never ashamed to show his colours, and always ready to forward the interests of 
the Connexion. He might have, as some thought, rather narrow and perhaps 
unreasonable ideas as to the salaries and accommodation of travelling-preachers ; 
but allowance must be made for the spirit of the times, for the training he had 
received, and for his extreme democratic views.* With sundry drawbacks, which 
were greatly modified with advancing years and experience, George Charlton was 
a splendid character ; one of the noblest men raised among the Primitives in the 
North.' (MS. " Notes of My Life.") 

William Stewart and Robert Foster, jun., are names not found in the list of 
Nelson Street trustees, though their fathers' names are there. Yet the history of 




Nelson Street cannot be written without a reference to them, and both claim their 
place in the larger history of the Connexion. James Stewart was an early class-leader 
as well as trustee. He had a kindly, genial disposition and a vein of humour that 
sometimes ran into fun and banter. In these respects William Stewart showed himself 
his father's son. But the son was also a keen business man a man of affairs and, despite 
a constitution not over robust, he rose to be one of Newcastle's leading tradesmen and 
Sheriff of the "town and county." Prosperity did not spoil him or wean him from 
the Connexion. There was no stand-offishness about him or pride of purse, but he 
was ever affable and accessible. In their well-appointed home, he and his good wife 
the daughter of Mr. Thomas Pattison dispensed a gracious hospitality which, socially, 
had its value for the Church. He took an interest in the affairs of the circuit (of 
which he was the efficient Steward), as well as in the wider affairs of the Connexion 
in district administration and extension, in Missions, in Elmfield College and Sunderland 

* It may not be generally known that the future Mayor of Gateshead was~a speaker at two 
of the immense Chartist gatherings on the Town Moor in 1838-9, at one of which the military 
appeared ; and that George Charlton also identified himself with the miners, and took part in 
their mass-meetings. 




Institute. Meanwhile he had the generous hand, and his family-pew was seldom 


Robert Foster, jun., was a young man of promise at the time of his father's death. 

The pious but heavy duty that now devolved upon him precluded his entering the 

ministry, in which assuredly he would have 
taken a high place. But it did not prevent 
his ultimately attaining to the highest honour 
the Connexion has to bestow on its laymen. 
This honour was his when the Conference 
of 1901 elected him as its Vice-President. 
Except during the years he resided in London, 
Mr. Foster has been closely attached to the 
society that worshipped in Nelson Street, and, 
under the leadership of Rev. A. T. Guttery, 
along with Messrs. Hewitson, Stokoe, Morton 
and others, actively assisted in the trans- 
ference of the society to what Mr. Foster 
has himself called "the city church." With 
no special advantages arising from wealth 
or position, he has steadily pursued the path 
of usefulness and the cultivation of mind 

and spirit. As he took the right road early in life, he has had no need to change his 

direction. The ideals of youth are not outworn. Hence t his life has been a progress, 

and the influence of that life cumulative. In him we see the harmony of " mind and 

soul according well." Mental cultivation, though steadily . 

pursued, has not weakened his sense of conduct, of the 

demand made upon us, amid all the social groupings and 

combinations of which we form a part, for what is right- 
eous and fitting. Nor is moralist the last word. No fear 

of " blanched morality " while the life-blood ceases not to 

course through every duct and vein, suffusing all with 

the hue of spiritual health, and keeping the heart young 

and fresh. 

Besides those already mentioned, there were others 
(speaking only of the dead) whose association with Nelson 

Street was close and long. Such were George Dodds, 

second only to his friend George Charlton as a temperance 

advocate, and as a master of incisive Saxon speech ; John 

Ingledew, kind, gentle, unassuming, a man of blameless 

and attractive character ; of quite another stamp was 

James Bruce, a godly keelman, whose responses and quaint 

sayings will not readily be forgotten; from the Yorkshire Dales came John Wilson, 
and from Alston Moor Robert Varty, both of whom were generous supporters of the 

cause and thoroughly loyal Primitive Methodists. Nor must we forget that 

N 2 





Rev. William Dent, with his alert intelligence and his solicitude for Zion's weal, was for 

some twenty-three years, as a superannuate, identified with the Nelson Street Society. 
As were the men so was the church, in the long middle period of its history. That 
period we have spoken of as an uneventful one. Such it was in 
a good sense, and also in a sense not so good. As a rule things 
moved steadily on. The old hands stood to their posts year in and 
year out. Now and again, indeed, there might be a breeze 
stiffening to a gale like that of which the Hymn Book of 1854 
was the storm-centre, or like that which in 1855 blew from the 
high latitudes of Conference.* But by skilful pilotage the storms 
were weathered, without mutiny of the crew or damage to the ship. 
Such experiences, however, were exceptional. Novocastrian 
Primitives were proud of Nelson Street. They regarded it, and 
rightly, as " by far the most superior place of worship owned by 
the Primitives in the North." They were proud too of their 

anniversaries and of their congregational singing, as they had good reason to be ; for 

in the pre-organ days, John Kidd, an enthusiastic musician, led the singing and 

presided over an instrumental choir. He loved the old hymns, and nowhere were 

they sung with such verve as at Nelson Street. He set tunes to many of the old 

hymns: that known as "Happy day," composed for No. 50 in the Small Hymn Book 

I'm glad I ever saw the day," still holding its ground. 

But there is a per contra side. Notwithstanding its 

intelligence, its stability, and other good qualities, it must 

be admitted Nelson Street lacked aggressiveness. The 

town grew amain, but the church did not keep pace 

with its growth. Open-air work indeed was not neglected, 

and once a year a rousing procession would startle the 

inhabitants of the lower quarters of the town, and 

George Charlton and others would deal out straight talk 

to the people who leaned out of their windows or stood at 

their doors, and then in the afternoon a capital camp 

meeting would be held on the Town Moor, and 

things moved on in the old regular way. That this was 

characteristic of that period is admitted by Mr. R. Foster, 

who says : " As a Christian organisation Primitive JOHN KIDD. 

Methodism has not been as enterprising and aggressive as it ought ; and judged by the 

census returns it is remarkably behind. But recently a more militant and forward 

spirit has taken possession of our churches." 

The following notes respecting the later development of Newcastle Circuit may be 

found useful. They will serve to show how comparatively recent that development 

has been, and thus confirm the truth of Mr. Foster's words just cited. Dealing first 

* With the concurrence of an influential minority, the Conference had appointed as an additional 
preacher to Newcastle one for whom, notwithstanding his acknowledged abilit}', it could find no 
place. The circuit stoutly and successfully resisted the impost ; and the preacher had a year's rest. 
See Rev. J. Atkinson's " Life of C. C. McKechnie," pp. 1216. 



with Newcastle : A mission at the west side of the town (Scotswood Road) resulted at 
length in the building of Brunei Street Chapel. This was in 1870 superseded by 
Maple Street, which in 1874 became the head of Newcastle II., with the Rev. James 
Young as its superintendent. Another westward mission, Arthur's Hill, founded in 
1842 by Mr. William Armstrong, gave place in 1864 to West Street. This in turn 
was vacated in 1897 for Kingsley Terrace, now attached to Newcastle II. Eastward, 
Heaton Road Chapel was built in 1877, and in 1892 was constituted the head of 
Newcastle III. Another city chapel not shown on our full-page illustration is Derby 
Street which in 1883 took the place of an upper room where we had long worshipped. 
Strickland Street is the successor of a joiner's shop in Elswick. Other schemes of 
local extension are projected. Finally, Newcastle II. was in 1894 again divided by 
Blaydon and Lemington becoming the heads of circuits. The number of members 
for the five circuits reported to the Conference of 1904 was 1886, as against 747 
when the division of 1874 took place. 

Turning now to Gateshead : Its early history was one of toil and disappointment, 
while its later history has been one of remarkable success. Made a circuit in 1837, 
it was in 1841 again joined to Newcastle. Its first chapel was lost to the Connexion 




through the defalcations of its treasurer. In 1854, Nelson Street Chapel was opened 
by Rev. Ralph Fen wick. The lineal successor of that chapel, sold in 1886, may be 
said to be the fine block of buildings in Durham Road, consisting of school and lecture 
hall erected in 1887, and chapel and manse in 1892-3. Meanwhile, Gateshead was again 
created a circuit in 1862. 

Gateshead II. was formed in 1891. At its head stands Prince Consort Road Chapel, 
the outcome of a mission begun in 1869. The Teams mission, begun by Messrs. Carr 
and Scope in 1874, has similarly resulted in Victoria Road Chapel; and the Somerset 
Street mission, started in 1875, developed nine years later into Sunderland Road 
Chapel, which has connected with it a Christian Endeavour Hall, said to be the first 
of its kind in the Connexion. Still another mission resulted in the building of 
Bank Street School-chapel in 1891. Further extensions are projected. 

One cannot but be impressed with the amount of work that has been crowded into 
a period no longer than is often the term of one man's ministry. How much of this 
success may have been prepared for by the sorrowful sowing of the previous period who 
shall tell 1 Referring to the progress made by Gateshead since it was made a circuit 






in 1862, the Rev. G. Armstrong, to whom we are indebted for many of the facts 
given, says : " From that time its advance has been rapid and continuous, until to-day 
its membership slightly exceeds that of Newcastle. Its more prominent leaders included 
W. Peel, John Thompson, Edward Gowland, John Scope, John Cherry, and G. E. Almond, 
who is still with us, and is yet a tower of strength. The great feature of Gateshead 
Primitive Methodism has been its persistent missioning, and its dogged determination 
to succeed." 

Men are of much more value than many chapels, and however beautiful to look at 
they may be, one would gladly turn to the men who got them 
built, or, yet more because they are in greater danger of being 
forgotten one would fain recall the men who worshipped in the 
humbler buildings of the early days. Some of these we have 
endeavoured to revive the memory of ; but, though Nelson Street 
was the head and centre of the old circuit, there were good men 
and true connected with its other societies no less worthy of being 
remembered. From Bessie Newton, of Whickham, the popular 
preacheress, and Ralph Waller, the Blaydon coke-burner, down 
to the men of the present, there have never been wanting those 
who have stood by the cause and furthered its local interests men' 
like David Wright of Ballast Hills, Thomas Scott of Walker, the 
Pickerings of Winlaton, and many others who might be named, did space permit. 
Besides these who have lived and died in the circuit, others have gone forth from it 
who have done yeoman-service in other parts of the Connexion. In proof of this the 
names of Benjamin and Ferdinand Spoor, and Thomas Robson may be cited. It was 
at Walker the brothers Spoor began their course of Christian usefulness which, with 
concurrent worldly prosperity, was hereafter to make them so influential in the Bishop 
Auckland Circuit, and far beyond. The father of Thomas Robson was one of the 
earliest local preachers of the Newcastle Circuit, and it was in the same circuit his 
son began to exercise those gifts which, after his retirement from the ministry, 
made him one of the most acceptable local preachers in the Darlington and 
Stockton District. 


John Branfoot was probably our Connexional pioneer in Sunderland. Tradition 
says he visited the town in 1821 and preached on the pier. 
Further, that some considerable time after, John Nelson walked 
over from South Shields to hold a service. A good-hearted 
woman lent him a chair for pulpit which he placed at the end 
of the Friends' School the very building which soon after 
was obligingly placed at the service of the few who had rallied 
round the missionary, amongst whom are particularly named 
George Peckett, John Tiplady, Benjamin Dodds, and Christopher 
Fenwick. So far tradition, which agrees with the earliest evidence 
afforded by printed documents. In the Journals of W. Clowes as 
found in the Magazine, he notes being at Sunderland on July 16th, 
1822, and adds: "there is likely to be a good work here." 




. tCONM-Kl .K9C.HAPr.IJ;* 1 1 j . I 



On September 1st, he meets the class of six members who then constituted the 
Society. Under date of October 8th, "I preached," he says, "in a large school-room 
kindly lent us by the committee of the school. We received it as a very great 
kindness." This would probably be the service attended by a young man who 
became a New Connexion minister, and who afterwards recalled his impressions. His 
ear had been so abused by tales of these new-comers that he went to the room full of 
prejudice. Mr. Clowes preached from "We are made partakers of Christ if we 
hold fast the beginning of our confidence, steadfast unto the end. ' As he listened 
his prejudices gradually gave way, and he pushed further into the room. By the 
time the preacher had finished his sermon, Mr. Lynn's " heart was bound to him in 
love as a precious man of God. After the singing of the hymn beginning : 

' Come and taste along with me, 
Consolation flowing free,' 

Scene of the Disaster of June 16th, 1883, in which 182 children lost their lives. 

he engaged in prayer, and Divine influence came streaming down in such a way as 
completely overcame me. I was so affected that I could not stand and sank on my 
knees. Oh, the unutterable bliss that filled my soul ! For many days after, I feasted 
on the rich supply of grace then given; and ever after I revered the name of William 

Very soon after this Mr. Clowes went on his Carlisle mission as already described. 
Not quite a year later the Sunderland and Stockton branches became the Sunderland 

* " Methodist Records ; or, Selections from the Journal of the Rev. Andrew Lynn, 1858." 



and Stockton Union Circuit. The Circuit thus formed was of wide area. It embraced 
the whole of the south-eastern part of the county of Durham, a part which included 
the towns of Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Houghton-le-Spring, the ancient city of 
Durham, and numerous collieries which were springing up and rapidly transforming the 
character and increasing the population of the district. Such was the old Sunderland 
Circuit ; and as such it remained until 1 837 when Stockton Circuit was formed. Two 
years later the western side was detached to form the Durham Circuit ; while Hetton, 

in the heart of the collieries, 
continued its connection with 
Sunderland until 1864. We 
shall not now interrupt the 
narrative in order to follow 
the process of circuit sub- 
division further, although it 
has resulted in giving us 
some twenty circuits instead 
of the one circuit of 1823. 

The growth of the Circuit 
was rapid. Primitive Metho- 
dism quickly rooted itself 
both in Sunderland and the 
mining village?. This will 
appear from two extracts we 
give from the Journals of the 
time. The writer of the first 
is Thomas Nelson, whose zeal 
and unremitting labour had 
no doubt largely contributed 
to the success realised. 

"Monday, August 25th, 
1823. Last year at this 
time in Sunderland we 
had six in Society and 
one leader ; but now we 
have 275 members, eleven leaders, and a very large chapel building. The increase 
for this quarter is 459. What hath God wrought ! Shall I say that this has been 
one of the best and most wonderful quarters I ever saw';! before;? I have preached 
nearly every sermon in the open-air, and have seen the good effects of it. I am 
afraid if our people do not watch, as they get chapels'] and places of worship , 
they will cease to preach in the open-air, and, then the* glory will depart from us 
as a people." 

Our second extract is from the Journal of N. West, and is dated October 15th, 1823. 
As usual, what he writes is helpful. It gives us a graphic presentation of what was 
going on amongst the colliers. We see them gladly receiving that form of truth 



which was to do so much for the moral elevation of their class. Alluding to its being 
less 'than a year since our cause was introduced into the northern part of the Circuit, 
he proceeds : 

"A very blessed and glorious work has gone on for some time in Sunderland and 
the neighbouring collieries. In Sunderland and Monkwearmouth (which is 
a village on the opposite side the river from Sunderland) we have nearly four 
hundred members. In Lord Steward's and Squire Lambton's collieries we have 
near four hundred more. Some of the most abandoned characters have tasted that 
the Lord is gracious. Indeed, the Lord and the poor colliers are doing wondrously. 
Our congregations are immensely large, and well-behaved. It would do any of the 
lovers of Jesus good to see the dear colliers sometimes under the word. On some 
occasions (for want of time to wash themselves), they are constrained to come black 
to the preaching or else miss the sermon. And when the Lord warms their hearts 
with His dying love, and they feel Him precious in His word, the large and silent 
tears rolling down their black cheeks, and leaving the white streaks behind, 
conspicuously portray what their hearts feel. Their hearty and zealous exertions 
in the cause of God would make almost any one love them. We have five preachers 
employed in this Circuit, and a blessed prospect." 

Thomas Nelson, it will have been noticed, alludes to the building of Flag Lane 
Chapel as already going on in the autumn of 1823. The date is significant, as is also 
the fact that the chapel was not opened until September 3rd, 1824. For a society not 
yet a year old to buy land without money, and to begin to build a chapel to seat 
a thousand people, was a bold undertaking. Judged by modern methods and require- 
ments it was impolitic and rash to a 'degree. But it should be remembered that the 
Society was, thus early, joined by some men of intelligence and character, and that this 
saved the enterprise from being as Quixotic as at first tdght it might appear to be. But 
even so, Flag Lane was long regarded as a standing monument of the good Providence of 
God over His people. It was under the influence of this feeling that N. West, after 
its opening, told the story to the Connexion. To him God's hand was in the building 
of Flag Lane as surely as it was seen in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in 
Nehemiah's days. Difficulties more than enough to daunt any but the most determined 
were met and overcome. A wall stood on the ground promised them, which wall 
was claimed by one who refused to sell except at an exorbitant price. Faced with this 
difficulty, the Society betook itself to prayer. From the prayer-meeting Brothers 
Peckett and Sharkitt waited upon the owner of the wall who, after some conference, 
gave permission for its removal. When the work was begun their available capital was 
but 23, the first shilling of which was given by a coal-porter. This is but a sample 
of their difficulties and deliverances. More than once or twice the work was brought 
to a stand for lack of money ; but prayer went up continually, and sacrifices were 
cheerfully made, and all conspired to beg as well as to give and pray. But what is 
worthy of remark : we see John Gordon Black and Henry Hesman moving about, inter- 
viewing this man and the other, and we are brought back to the conclusion that the 
character of the men associated with this seemingly rash undertaking was a valuable 
asset, and this the Church in Sunderland found to its own great advantage in this and 


subsequent years. It was strong in the moral strength of its earliest and most 
prominent officials. Of these John Gordon Black was as long as he lived the first and 
foremost. With his tall, slender, somewhat stooping form, his dark visage, deep-set eyes, 
Melanchthon-like forehead crowned with steel-grey hair, and his sickly cast of 
countenance, Mr. Black was a striking if not a prepossessing figure. He gave the 
impression of strength of character, of knowing his own mind, of the power to lead 
and command ; and fuller knowledge but served to confirm the correctness of such 
impressions. He had a clear penetrative intellect, and could hold his own in argument 
even with men who might be more fully informed than himself. By the exercise of 
qualities such as these Mr. Black prospered in business, and in the end amassed con- 
siderable wealth. He was a convinced and loyal Primitive Methodist, whose services 
in its behalf merited the distinction of his name being included the only one of the 
Sunderland District amongst the original signatories of the Deed Poll. He loved to 
gather round him ministers of his own and other denominations, so that his home 
became a rally ing-point for evangelical Nonconformity in the borough. Tho influence 


of these re-unions, and of Mr. Black's reputation for integrity and public-spirit, were of 
advantage to the Church to which he belonged. Sunderland Primitive Methodism 
has always been strong on the social side, and has stood well in public estimation. 
This is in no inconsiderable measure due to the early example and influence of 
John Gordon Black. His funeral, in September, 1851, was attended by forty ministers of 
his own denomination, as well as by many ministers of other Churches. 

Next to J. Gordon Black should certainly come a reference to his contemporary, 
Henry Hesman. As we recall the reminiscences of his physical defects, which after all 
were but the foil to unusual endowments, we are reminded of Joseph Polwarth, the 
prophet-dwarf of George Macdonald's story.* As Mr. McKechnie has finely written in 
his unpublished autobiography : " That dwarfed and deformed figure enshrined 
a richly dowered soul, clear, piercing, far-reaching in its perception, and with capacities 
for high and subtle thought." As in addition to all his other qualities, Mr. Hesman 
had a silvery musical voice, oratorical gestures, and a singular excellence in his style of 
address, it was but natural that, like the very popular Newrick Featonby, he should be 
well received as a local preacher by the Societies. 

* " Thomas Wiugfold, Curate." 


Other men, the contemporaries or immediate successors of those just mentioned, were 
prominent figures in the Sunderland Circuit for many years. Such were Messrs. 
Whittaker, W. Hopper, W. B. Earl, R. Huison, Thomas Gibson and others we need not 
name. The fact that Mr. Thomas Gibson finally withdrew from the Connexion does 
not annul the service he rendered the Sunderland Circuit, and the Connexion 
generally. In regard to the latter, the practical interest he took in the higher training 
of the ministry demands special acknowledgment. Men quickly pass, and memory is 
short. They who can recall Mr. Thomas Gibson as, unimpassionedly, he addressed the 
Conference, are becoming fewer in number every year. The few, however, who remain 
will not fail to remember his skill in debate. How clearly he could state a case, 
marshal his arguments, controvert a position ! 

The men we have referred to were men of good social position. They were the men 

who figured on platforms, and had a large determining 
influence in the councils of the Circuit. They took part 
in the full-dress debates of the Quarterly Meetings and in 
the sessions of the District Preachers' Association large 
and notable gatherings both. Yet the prominence and 
usefulness of these men must not be allowed to obscure 
the fact that the strength of the Circuit, and the secret 
of its success, were with those more sequestered souls in 
the various societies who quietly did their duty and gave 
stability to the cause. This was seen when the troubles 
arose, ostensibly through the building of Tatham Street 
Chapel (1875), and the subsequent division of the 
Sunderland Circuit (1877). We have used the word 
"ostensibly " ; for though these events were the occasion of 
the divergence, their real cause was something very 
different from the cause alleged. However the issue may 

have been confused, the vital question at issue was between the will of the few and 
the will of the many ; whether government by the people for the people was not after 
all the right kind of government for Primitive Methodism. In the process of getting 
back on the right democratic lines mistakes may have been committed, but not to have 
got back would have been the greatest mistake of all. 


Sunderland Circuit soon began to carry on missionary operations beyond its own 
borders. For a number of years it was a Missionary Society in itself, and as such 
published its own Report. In that for 1835 we read: "Sunderland Circuit's local 
situation has prevented it from enlarging its own borders much at home, but distant 
places such as Edinburgh, and other towns in Scotland, have enjoyed the benefit of its 
surplus moneys ; missionaries were sent to these places, and for some time were 
supported at considerable expense by this circuit ; societies were formed through their 


instrumentality, and they have since either been annexed to northern circuits or formed 
into new circuits." 

Sunderland Circuit led the way in seeking to establish missions in Scotland, and 
Carlisle Circuit soon followed its lead. Edinburgh was Sunderland's objective, while 
Carlisle fastened on Glasgow, Scotland's commercial capital. It was in April, 1826, 
the two chosen missionaries Thomas Oliver and Jonathan Clewer set out for the 
northern metropolis. To save the coach-fare they walked the whole of the distance, 
billeting and preaching, as they went, at Morpeth, Alnwick, and Belford. Arrived 
at their destination, they looked round. They first surveyed the city ; not as sight- 
seers, but as prospectors, anxious to find the most suitable spot for the delivery of their 
message. They were only doing in the Modern Athens what Paul did in the ancient 
one when, first of all, he "passed through the city," and his "heart was stirred within 
him." So, as they passed through the Grass Market, the impression they sought was 
received. Here, where so many of the martyrs had surrendered their lives for the faith, 
they would open their commission. Accordingly, on April 13th, they took their stand 
in the middle of the Grass Market, and after singing the hymn "Arise, O Zion," 
Mr. Oliver preached from, " Is all well 1 wherefore came this mud fellow to thee 1 " 
(2 Kings ix. 11). On the Sunday evening following, a second 
service was held at the same place, when Mr. Clewer preached. 
A room, formerly used as a weaving factory, was rented, and a small 
society formed. At first their efforts were not confined to the 
city ; towns and villages lying within an eight miles' radius were 
visited. But not meeting with much success in these efforts they 
resolved to concentrate upon Edinburgh. Much time was devoted 
to house-to-house visitation in the Grass Market, Canongate, and 
Westport. In three months 715 families were visited, and the 
tabulated results of the visitation were published. By this means 
public attention was drawn to the sad spiritual destitution of the 

REV. THOS. OLIVER. ,, , , _ , . . . , , , 

dwellers in these populous Edinburgh slum*, and the most effective 
method of remedially dealing with this destitution was suggested. This method of 
systematic house-to-house visitation was afterwards adopted by Drs. Chalmers and 
Guthrie in the parochial and territorial system they introduced.* 

Unfortunately, the bright prospects of the Edinburgh mission soon suffered disastrous 
eclipse. Sunderland Circuit had appointed N. West to superintend the mission, and 
from one with so good a record much was expected. He had already acquired con- 
siderable Connexional influence, and was active in originating legislation. His last 
effort in this direction was to prove his own undoing. At the Conference of 1827 he 
brought forward a proposal, which became a law, to the effect that any preacher who 
should refuse to go to his appointed station should, by such refusal, forfeit his position 
as a minister. What followed furnished a striking instance of the " engineer hoist 
with his own petard " ; for N. West, being now appointed to South Shields, declined 
the appointment, with the result that the year 1828 saw both the disappearance of 

* Nor was the method adopted without acknowledgment. Rev. J. Wenn affirms that, in a private 
conversation with him, Dr. Guthrie made such acknowledgment. 


N. West's name from the list of preachers, and also the first appearance on the statute 
book of that enactment which led to his passing. But N. West did not leave the 
Connexion unattended. He took possession of the preaching-room, and drew away 
the greater portion of the society. Then John Bowes was sent to patch up the rent, 
but made it worse by going over to the malcontents. Jabez Burns, too, who had given 
Mr. Petty his first ticket, joined the secessionists. For a time they worked together 
and established several societies, but ultimately the leaders disagreed amongst them- 
selves, and then parted to go their several ways. N". West went to the United States, 
where he became a D.I), and chaplain to the Federal forces. Jabez Burns also became 
a D.D., a Baptist minister, and a publisher of sermons that had some vogue in their day. 
As for Mr. John Bowes, we are told he became a teetotal lecturer and the advocate 
of an unpaid ministry. Meanwhile, the Primitive Methodist society was a mere wreck, 
and W. Clowes might well ask in writing John Flesher : " What shall we do for 
Edinburgh 1 ?" The person thus appealed to was sent to save the situation. Hull Circuit 
agreed, with certain stipulations, to relieve Sunderland of the charge of Edinburgh ; 
and Mr. Flesher spent some anxious months of 1830-1 in the northern metropolis, 
away from his wife and family and, vested with plenary powers, did his best to reorganise 
and strengthen the society. Xo good purpose would be served by following the earlier 
history of Edinburgh further in detail. It was transferred to Berwick to Glasgow. 
It became an independent station ; it came again under Sunderland Circuit's sheltering 
wing. Good men laboured upon it men like David Beattie, J. A. Bastow, Hugh 
Campbell, Christopher Hallarn, John Wenn. It gave James Macpherson to our ministry 
in 1833, which gift compensated for much. Other Churches reaped large benefit 
from our labours, right along from the time the first sermon in the Grass Market 
gave Dr. Lindsay Alexander one of his best deacons. In 1838, Edinburgh missioned 
Alloa and Dunfermline, and two years afterwards Alloa was taken under the care of 
Sunderland as a separate mission, and such it remained for some years, though a small 
and feeble cause. 

Our remarks on the earlier history of Edinburgh may fittingly end by a glance 
forward to the next most important event in its history. This was the erection, in 1861, 
of the Victoria Terrace Chapel, through the energetic efforts of the Rev. J. Vaughan, the 
superintendent. At his first service in the city he had but eight hearers, and the 
outlook was anything but promising. But some three weeks after his arrival, great 
excitement was caused by the fall of a five-storied building, by which several persons 
were crushed to death and others maimed. It was then the well-known incident 
occurred : A voice was heard saying, " Heave away, lads, I'm no dead yet." The 
voice came from a poor fellow buried beneath the debris, who was forthwith extricated. 
Mr. Vaughan sought to improve the occasion by preaching near the scene of the catastrophe ; 
and from that time a revival began which greatly assisted the forward movement. 
It might almost seem as if preacher and people had adopted the motto of the brave 
young Scotsman who was the hero of the hour. A chapel, school, and dwelling-house 
were built at a cost of 1600, and of this sum considerably more than 1000 was 
raised. After all the migrations of the years from one rented room to another a home 
was at last obtained in the chief city of Scotland, within a stone's throw of the old Grass 



Market, where the first missionaries had stood. Tranent, too, and Elphinstone were 
missioned, and a chapel built at the former place. But long before these events 
occurred Edinburgh had passed from the care of Sunderland Circuit. Its subsequent 
history, as well as that of Paisley, and Glasgow with its offshoots Calder Bank, 
Motherwell, and Wishaw must be glanced at when we come to consider the work 
of the General Missionary Committee and the formation of the North British District. 

Some time in 1822 a Christian philanthropist in Scotland wrote W. Clowes, pressing 
him to begin at once an evangelistic mission in that country. Through some mischance 

the letter was not read by Clowes 
until a year after it was written. 
Afterwards, when reflecting upon 
this incident, Clowes regretted the 
mischance, and was disposed to 
blame a malign power for its occur- 
rence. "I thought it was unfortunate 
that I had not received his letter 
immediately after its arrival : as I 
should most likely have missioned 
Scotland, being at the time at Shields 
in the North, where the work was 
going on prosperously. I believe 
Satan laboured unusually hard to 
get me out of the North ; and I am 
persuaded that I left it too early." 
It is not often Clowes criticises 
events in this way, and acquaints us 
with, his personal predilections. One 
cannot but think that Primitive 
Methodism might have got a better 
start in Scotland if that letter 
but we leave it. Our business is not 
with the might-have-beens. 

We have now to chronicle the 
establishment of a mission in the 
Channel Islands by the Sunderland 
Circuit. This was in [March, 1832, when the circuit, having been relieved of the 
Edinburgh mission, was now^free to turn elsewhere. Moreover, the circuit was in 
a very prosperous condition. The tragic death of Messrs. Branfoot and Hewson had 
been over-ruled for good. -The event had left a deep and solemn feeling amongst 
the societies. The places left vacant were immediately filled, March, 1831, by 
Messrs J. Petty 'and W. Lister. It is difficult to realise that at this time Mr. Petty 
was but four and twenty years of age. He came to the circuit just after he had 
experienced an extraordinary work of grace in his own soul. He was in a state of 
spiritual exaltation, and there is ample evidence to show that his preaching of holiness, 



and the sanctity and sweetness of his own character, had a powerful influence on the 
societies and especially on his colleagues. " I had not been an hour in his company," 
says Mr. Lister, "before I was united to him." Almost the first duty of the new- 
comers was to visit the widows of the deceased ministers. While praying and 
conversing together, " we had," says Mr. Lister, " a glorious baptism ; Mrs. Hewson 
praised God for a clean heart." Messrs. Lister and Hebbron both became seekers of 
the blessing of full salvation, and both rejoiced in its realisation. With the preachers 
thus aglow and the people urged to seek after sanctification of heart and life, a revival 
broke out, as might have been anticipated. In another way the revival had been 
prepared for. Towards the close of 1831, Sunderland and the district suffered severely 
from the ravages of cholera, and the minds of many were seriously turned towards 
religion, the result being that in 1832 an increase of six hundred members was reported. 
South Shields Circuit shared in this revivak While it was in progress certain sailors 
from Guernsey had attended some meetings of extraordinary power, and had expressed 
a strong desire that a missionary might be sent to their native island. It was therefore 
resolved that the two circuits, South Shields and Sunderland, should co-operate in 
sending a missionary. Mr. George Cosens, a native of the West Indies, was the person 
selected, largely, it would seem, because "his colour would attract in open-air services." 
Mr. Cosens reached the island in May, 1832, and began his work under promising 
conditions. Soon another missionary was sent to his support, and then " something 
happened." At St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, Mr. Cosens, being annoyed at the conduct 
of some giddy young people who were present at the service, spoke unadvisedly 
with his lips. The laws of the island are peculiar; Mr. Cosens was summoned and 
fined, and in April Mr. Petty took his place on the islands, and during his twelve 
months' stay endeavoured to repair the damage the mission had sustained. 

The Norman Isles mission is of some importance historically because it was but 
part of a much larger scheme which never came into being. The Norman Isles were 
to be but the stepping-stones to France. Missionaries were to be sent there for a time 
to acquire the language, and in other ways to prepare themselves for what was to be 
regarded as their main work labouring on the soil of France. This purpose is clearly 
stated in Sunderland's Missionary Report for 1834 : 

" We intend, as soon as circumstances will allow, to extend our exertions to the 
wide continent of France to a nation proverbial for infidelity and vice to a 
people who seldom or never have the opportunity of hearing the Gospel preached 
in its purity. Our two missionaries, Messrs. Petty and Macpherson, inform us 
that they have now learned the French language so as to be able to preach in it, 
and are ready and willing to go to France as soon as the means are provided." 

Sunderland's dream of a Primitive Methodist Mission in France has been one of the Con- 
nexion's unrealised possibilities. It is a dream which other circuits besides Sunderland 
have dreamed, even in later years. In 1869, North Shields tried to revive the project 
of a French mission. A week's Missionary meetings, beginning as was fitting with 
Old Cramlington, were devoted to the advocacy of such a mission. Much enthusiasm 
was evoked, and representations were made in the proper quarters ; but nothing came 
of it. As for Sunderland, it is interesting to recall that the town itself has still had 



its honourable association with the evangelisation of France, since the founder of the 
Me All Mission was for some years one of its ministers. 

In March, 1834, Sunderland Circuit reported 1400 members, and had a balance at 
its quarterly board of 50. At the suggestion of the preachers themselves it was 
resolved to devote this surplus to the establishment of a mission in Dorsetshire. 
Weymouth, a watering-place beloved of George III., was selected as the headquarters 
of the mission, and Messrs. John Nelson and Cosens volunteered their services as 
missionaries. At Weymouth they met with a favourable reception. Their open-air 
services attracted crowds, and some remarkable conversions took place. The Assembly 
Room, which had for many years been the scene of dancing and revelry, was turned 
into a Primitive Methodist chapel, and that too was rightly regarded as a remarkable 
conversion. Dorchester, the county -town was also visited. A Congregational minister 
who had known our people in Lincolnshire, welcomed the missionaries. He promised 
them the use of his chapel when the weather should become too inclement for open-air 
services. He informed them that though Dorchester had a population of six thousand, 
no more than about five hundred persons were frequenters of public worship on the 
Lord's Day ; and that, within a radius of ten miles of the town, there were at least 
fifty villages in most of which there were few Dissenters or persons making a profession 
of religion. Here, it might have been thought, were so many cogent reasons why the 
advent of the missionaries to these parts should have been gladly hailed, did not 
experience show that where the evangel is most needed it is often the least desired. 
So it was in this case. At Dorchester and in the surrounding villages the missionaries 
met with a rougher reception than at Weymouth. At first, they experienced considerable 
annoyance in carrying on their open-air work ; guns were let off, bugles were blown, 
artificial thunder created by a machine brought from the adjoining theatre, and missiles 
thrown ; finally, Mr. Cosens had a bucket of water poured over him while preaching. 
In the villages persecution took a more subtle but relentless form. Some, whose 
incognito is preserved by the use of dashes in the Report, resorted to intimidation. 
To give shelter to the missionary or even to lend him a chair to stand upon, might mean 
loss of employment or ejectment from house and home. One day, John Nelson walked 
eight miles to a village during fair-time and, after preaching in the open-air amid 
interruption from drunken men, he could find no place at which to sleep. Even at the 
inn where he had previously stayed he was refused a bed. At last a kindly miller took 
pity on him and allowed him to sleep in the mill, though he intimated that by granting 
such permission he might jeopardise his tenancy of the mill. Still, despite the boycott, 
fourteen villages around Weymouth and Dorchester were visited with some degree 
of success. 

On the whole, it must be acknowledged that Sunderland Circuit was unfortunate in 
its missions. It was so in Edinburgh and in the Norman Isles, and so it was also 
in Dorsetshire. Here, persecution was not so inimical to the mission as was internal 
dissension. Paul and Barnabas were not the last yoke-fellows who had so sharp 
a contention between them that "they departed asunder the one from the other." 
Mr. Nelson and his dusky-skinned colleague could not agree. The societies took sides 
with one or the other, and were rent and divided. Mr. Cosens withdrew from the 



Connexion and became a Baptist minister. Mr. Nelson, smarting under the judgment 
which Hugh Bourne and others had taken of this painful episode, also withdrew 
soon after and entered the ministry of the New Connexion, in which he was spared 
to labour many years. 

"Wey mouth Mission," says Mr. Petty, "did not soon recover the shock which 
the unhappy difference we have just named occasioned, and, perhaps, never 
presented such a flattering prospect as it did when Messrs. Nelson and Cosens 
began their missionary labours there. In a subsequent year it was indeed greatly 
enlarged through the enterprising labours of Mr. Thomas Russell, and in the year 
1839 we find no fewer than four travelling-preachers stationed to it, then under 
the care of Manchester Circuit ; but the societies never acquired, unless till 
recently, the prosperity and strength which most societies in other parts in 
Dorsetshire have done." (P. 324). 





|T the beginning of 1823, the Nottingham Circuit had six branches Boston, 
Spalding, Norwich, Fakenham, Cambridge, and Lynn. Of these, Norwich 
and Fakenham became circuits in June, 1823, and Cambridge and Lynn in 
March of the following year. By 1825, Yarmouth and Upwell (afterwards 
Downham Market) had also become heads of circuits. As these six circuits geographically 
formed one group, the Conference of 1825 made them into a new District, of which 


Norwich, the capital of the Eastern Counties, was naturally constituted the head. No 
doubt this step was taken because it was thought it would conduce to the more 
economical and effective administration of the stations themselves. Such at least is 
the conclusion to which we must come after reading what Hugh Bourne has bluntly 
written on the subject: "In 1825, Norwich District was formed of six shattered circuits 
from Nottingham District, with 1546 members. These had been injured by employing 



improper characters." After this, we must not picture to ourselves these first East 
Anglian circuits as starting on their careers with the vigour and freshness of young 
athletes. There is much that we cannot know, and need not care to know, implied in 
those words "shattered circuits." All the more remarkable, then, is the progress which 
the Norwich District made between 1825 and 1842; for by that time the Norwich 
District had become practically co-extensive with what we know as East Anglia. 

We propose, then, in this chapter to show, first, how Primitive Methodism reached 
and rooted itself in these primary circuits of the old Norwich District, and then, how 
from these circuits as the nuclei it was carried here and there by missionary efforts, 
until the greater part of East Anglia was covered with a network of circuits. 
Unfortunately, there is little information obtainable as to the first planting of our 


Church in Fakenham and Upwell Circuits. It was so when Mr. Petty wrote his 
History, and it is now too late to hope that the facts can be recovered. Of our 
Church-origins in the remaining primary Circuits, especially in Yarmouth, something more 
is known. We begin with Norwich, and in Avhat follows we shall freely use the 
information which has been kindly supplied by the Rev. W. A. Hammond, who 
knows so much of East Anglian Primitive Methodism. 


The first Primitive Methodist services in Norwich were held on the great open 
common known as Mousehold Heath, familiar to every student of history as the 
camping-ground of Ket, the tanner of Wymondham, whose army of 20,000 men 



gathered in rebellion against Edward VI., and was only defeated by Dudley, Earl 
of Warwick, after much desperate fighting. Here stands the oak still known as 
Ket's Oak under which the insurgent sat to administer justice. Here, too, is 
the Lollards' Pit, wherein the early Reformers used to gather for Divine service as in 
a mighty amphitheatre. Here, as in another Gwennap, they gathered, row upon 
row, to listen to the Word. To this historic spot the early missionaries wended their 
way and held services, so that it soon got a new name which needs no guessing. 
For many years crowds gathered at least once a year for a camp meeting at the old 

It was not long before the missionaries found their way into the city. Pockthorpe, 
its most degraded quarter, was not far from Household, and soon the services were 
transferred to one of the yards for which Norwich is famous Rose Yard by name, 

not, however, so called because it was fragrant 
with the scent of summer roses, but because 
a public-house named "The Rose" stood at 
its entrance. Here the open-air services were 
continued and at last a chapel secured, and 
the foundations of Primitive Methodism in 
the city laid. Encompassed with formidable 
difficulties the infant cause pressed on its way 
sometimes almost crushed with financial 
difficulties (for some of its early trustees were 
cast into prison), and sometimes its very 
existence threatened by dissension ; yet, for 
all that, it had such vitality and vigour that 
its preachers went through all the country-side 
preaching the gospel. Not only did they 
enter the villages contiguous to the city, but, 
as we shall see, they sent their evangelists 
to Yarmouth and Wymondham, and even to 
Colchester, sixty miles away. 

Other openings in the city were eagerly 
tried and cottage-meetings and open-air services 
held, the most important of which was Lakenham. Here a loft was secured, and 
services commenced, and, in 1823, a chapel built at a cost of 360 not a large 
outlay for providing accommodation for five hundred people. Subsequently, however, 
900 more were expended upon it, and Lakenham chapel became the headquarters 
of Primitive Methodism in the city. Out of the way, up a narrow " loak " * called 
Chapel Loak, that a stranger would have had some difficulty to find, this building yet 
became the home of a strong church. Crowds gathered to listen to such preachers as 
John Oscroft, Thomas Charlton, G. W. Bellham, Richard Howchin, Thomas Batty, and 
Robert Key. Meanwhile, the Rose Yard society emerged from the old yard, purchased 
an old brewery and, in 1842, built the present Cowgate Street Chapel at a cost of 750, 

* " Loak," a lane closed in with gates, or through which there is no thoroughfare. 




in which good work has heen done in a very needy neighbourhood. In those early 
days, Norwich Branch with its "appartments-" (sic), as the outlying districts were 
strangely called, carried six preachers, two of whom were stationed at Yarmouth 
and one at Colchester. In 1825, Norwich had 192 members, Colchester 19, and 
Yarmouth 112, with seven chapels and twenty-four local preachers all told. The 
missionary character of the work carried on is evidenced by a resolution of one of 
the Quarterly Meetings ordering five hundred hymn-books to be bought and one 
hundred plans printed. Local preachers were to have their licences paid for out of 
the missionary money, and no person was to be allowed to sing who curled his hair 
or behaved disorderly during the service. 


Notwithstanding all difficulties and drawbacks the work grew and prospered. A new 
cause was commenced in the west end of the city, and, in 1864, a good chapel was 
erected at a cost of 1300, to which schools have since been added, at a cost of 960, 
largely through the energy and liberality of Kev. R. Key. In 1872, the old Lakenham 
Chapel gave place to the present fine suite of buildings in Queen's Road. In 1879> 
a new mission was opened in Nelson Street, beyond Dereham Road, and a chapel and 
schools built at a cost of 1200; and, in 1892, a mission was opened in Thorpe, and 



a school-hall built at a cost of <900, which has now given place to the beautiful 
Scott Memorial Church, erected by Rev. John Smith at a cost of some 6000. 

Norwich has had a long succession of devoted, earnest officials. Far away back were 
William Wilson, William Dawson, John Huggins, and William Elmer. Later on, we have 
the names of Samuel Jarrold, founder of the well-known publishing house, and Messrs. 
Reeves, Eggleton, and Spinks. Nor must Elizabeth Bultitude, our last female travelling- 
preacher, be forgotten. She was converted in 1828 at a camp meeting on Household Heath 
led by Samuel Atterby, and preached her trial sermon in old Lakenham Chapel. In 1832, 
she was called to the ministry 'by Norwich Circuit, and for thirty years discharged 


the full duties of an itinerant, chiefly in the old Norwich District, at a time when the 
work'was arduous, the salary poor, and the difficulties many. At her superannuation 
in 1862 she settled in Norwich, where she died in 1891, at the ripe age of eighty-one 
years. The Conference, in its annual address to the stations, noted the disappearance 
of her name from the list of preachers where it had stood so long, "as though to 
remind us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were without distinction of sex." 


It is clear even from the brief outline just given that, like many other circuits, Norwich 
had its intermediate period of reaction and distress. When we find the circuit reduced 

to one preacher and 109 members, as was the case in 1829, 
it must, one thinks, have been within measurable distance 
of extinction. Certain minutes recorded in the books of 
the Hull Circuit throw unexpected light on this trying 
period, and when their origin and purport are explained 
they show that, at the prompting of W. Clowes, Hull was 
ready to lend a helping hand to a struggling circuit. It 
could come down from its "high popularity" to act 
the part of the good Samaritan. W. Clowes visited 
Norwich in 1830 and again in 1831. In the former year 
he assisted at a Missionary Meeting in Rose Yard Chapel. 
He remarks in his Journal that the city of Norwich, 
notwithstanding its thirty-six parish churches and 
numerous clergy, is fearfully wicked. On his next visit, 

ELIZ \BFTH BULTITU " after conversing with our friends belonging to Rose Yard 

Chapel, I saw," says he, " the necessity of a preacher 
being appointed to officiate therein, and to mission sundry places around the city." 




The outcome of this may be seen in the following enactment of the Conference 
of 1831 : 

Q. " How shall Rose Yard be managed ? 

A. "That chapel and its dependencies shall be annexed to Hull Circuit." 

And so it was. In June, 1831, David Beattie was sent as a missionary, and in 
September he was asked if there was room for another. Six months he laboured at 
Rose Yard, and was succeeded by Thomas Bennett. In 1832, Norwich reported 
533 members, and the tide had turned. 

When, in the year 1821, Messrs. Oscroft and Charlton, finding their Lincolnshire 

Circuits over-manned, skirted the Wash to begin their mission in Norfolk, King's Lynn 

was naturally, from its position 
and importance, one of the 
first places they visited. From 
the very first they met here 
with an encouraging measure 
of success ; so much so indeed, 
that a letter written at the 
time affirms " the Primitives 
are carrying all before them 
in King's Lynn." The leader 
of the first class formed is said 
to have been Mr. Streader, 
whose son was to share with 
John Ellerthorpe of Hull, 
another of our co-religionists, 
the distinction of having saved 
so many lives from drowning 
that the mere recital of their 
exploits makes up a goodly 
volume.* But, unfortunately, 
disaster soon overtook the 
promising cause ; for when 
Hugh Bourne wrote of " shat- 
tered circuits," and of the 
employment of " improper 
persons " as the cause of their 
shattering, he was certainly 
thinkingof Lynn, and of the dis- 
loyal and divisive conduct of the 

preacher once in charge. We have already alluded to these unhappy occurrences, and 

* See Rev. H. Woodcock's " The Hero of the Humber, or, -the Story of John Ellerthorpe," and 
Rev. S. Horton's " To the Rescue ; " being the Life of W. T. Streader. 

Where first preaching services were held in King's Lynn. 



need not dwell on them further.* The history of Lynn Primitive Methodism began 
anew in the year 1825, when G. W. Bellham, who had done such good work in the 
Loughborough Circuit, was appointed to Lynn, his native place, and began his twenty- 
four years of service in the Norwich District, then in but a rudimentary condition. 
He had a heavy task before him ; but he bravely set himself, in the spirit of Nehemiah, 
to repair the breach. He brought back concord to the society, built a small chapel, and 
began a Sabbath school which became, as it still is, one of the most flourishing schools 
in the District. He also enlarged the bounds of the Circuit by missioning Swaffham, 

Where the first Primitive Methodist Sunday School was held in King's Lynn. 

Litcham, and other places more in the centre of the county. It was at Litcham, 
while holding a service near the stocks, that the familiar trio of parson, lawyer, 
and constable came on the scene. In the end, Mr. Bellham was given in charge of 
the constable, and next day was brought before Col. K , of Lexham Hall. 

"What Act am I taken up under?" asked Mr. Bellham of the Magistrate. 

Magistrate. " The Vagrant Act. You are a common vagrant." 

Mr. B. " I did not do anything to obtain money." 

* See vol. i. p. 322. 


MtKjistrate. " I meant the Riot Act. You collected a great number of persons 
together, I suppose to make a riot, as it was late in the evening." 

Mr. B. '' If I am taken up under the Riot Act, I have no business here. Commit 
me to prison, and let me take my trial before more than one magistrate." 

Magistrate, with an oath." Be off out of my sight." 

I/,. ^. " it is wrong to swear, sir. Jesus Christ hath said, ' Swear not at all.' " 

Magistrate. " Then don't provoke me." At last the Magistrate, being rather 
rusty in his law and getting the worst in the encounter, said : " Go about your 

Mr. B. " When I am properly discharged, sir." 

Magistrate. " Are you any trade 1 " 

Mr. B. "I am a shipwright. I served seven years under Mr. B of Lynn."' 

Magistrate. "You are a fine fellow a shipwright, a parson, and a lawyer. Well 
you may go about your business ; I have no more to say to you." 

Clergyman to the Magistrate. "Stop, sir, there is something for him to pay. 
Constable, what is it 1 " 

Constafde." Eight and ninepence, sir." 

Clergyman to Mr. B. "Eight and ninepence. You will discharge that bill, and 
Lhen you are at liberty." 

Mr. B. "I am at liberty, sir. The magistrate has set me at liberty. ' 

Magistrate to the Clergyman. "Let the fellow go." 

Clergyman. " But who is to pay the eight and ninepence 1 " 

Magistrate. " Pay it yourself ; bringing your fellows here." 

Mr. B. "I'll pay it if it is just and right. But I think the debt belongs to 
Mr. H." 

Magistrate. "Be off." 

Mr. B. "Good morning, gentlemen." 

We are told that Mr. Bellham and the clergyman left the room together, Mr. B. 
saying to him : "God forgive you, sir ; I wish you well" ; but the clergyman was 
too chagrined to reply. 

The country thus missioned in 1825 by Mr. Bellham became, in 1836, the Swafi'ham 
Circuit. From Litcham Messrs. James and Mark Warnes went out into the ministry ; 
Avhile Sporle, near Swaffham, was the native place of Horatio Hall and Robert Ward, 
the Connexion's pioneer missionary to Xew Zealand. 

Another notable advance was made by the Lynn Circuit in 1831, when John Smith (1) 
became the superintendent of the station. He had come from his native Tunstall 
District in exchange for Thomas Batty. His name is carved deep in the history of the 
Norwich District, not because of any special intellectual powers he possessed, but 
because of the intensity of his zeal and his single-minded purpose to save men. Well 
might men, as they reflected on what his advent had meant for the churches of East 
Anglia, say to themselves : " There was a man sent from God whose name was John." 
By March, 1832, the membership of the circuit had increased by 234, and the circuit 
was stimulated to enter once more upon missionary labours. Mr. James Pole was sent 
to the north-western corner of the county, and missioned Holme, Hunstanton, Ringstead, 
Docking, Snettisham, and many other places. The mission proved so successful that, 
in 1836, Snettisham became the head of a new circuit, afterwards to be known 
as Docking Circuit. The village of Anmer is in the Docking station. From an 



interesting communication we have received from Rev. F. B. Paston, we learn that 
the time was when the old squire of the village placed Primitive Methodism under 
ban. Xo services were allowed on his estate. At his death the young squire, whose 
acquaintance Mr. Paston had made, removed the ban and showed himself friendly ; 
but King Edward VII., who acquired the village by purchase and added it to his 
Norfolk estate, has shown himself a friend indeed to our Church. He has built us 
a beautiful village sanctuary, which was recently opened by the Rev. Thomas Woodall 
of Lynn. 

In 1833, the membership of Lynn Circuit was reported as 1170, being an increase 
of 843 for the preceding five years. It should be noted, too, that about the year 
1835 Lynn sent W. Kirby to commence a mission at Peterborough which, in 1839, 
became the Peterborough Circuit. 

Returning now to the town 
of Lynn : the next notable 
event in its history was the 
holding of the first of the two 
Conferences that have met 
here that of 1836. The 
chapel had recently under- 
gone its second enlargement, 
and amongst the services 
held therein were preaching 
services at five o'clock in the 
morning. At this Conference 
the Minutes were consolidated 
by the Conference itself, the 
onerous duty having appar- 
ently been shirked by the 
General Committee ! It had 
been noised abroad that the 
authorities would interfere 
to prevent the processioning 
of the streets of the royal 
borough on the Sunday. Xone the less, the procession moved along, and one of the 
senior brethren not only preached a short sermon as they went on but also engaged in 
prayer. The camp meeting, held on Hardwick Green, was said to have been one of the 
largest ever held. Numberless conveyances of every kind waggons, carts, gigs, besides 
single horses had brought the people from a distance of ten, twenty, thirty, and even 
forty miles. Lynn's second Conference was held in 1844. 

London Road Chapel was opened, March 31st, 1859. The site on which it stands 
had formerly been occupied by the ancient chapel of St. James. At the Dissolution 
it became a hospital for " poor and impotent people," and still later a workhouse. The 
acquisition of such a site for a Primitive Methodist chapel was regarded as little short 
of a scandal by a certain section of the inhabitants, and every available means was 
tried to defeat the project but in vain. 

The first Primitive Methodist Chapel in King's Lynn. 




The foundation-stone of this new structure had been laid by Mr. William Lift, of 
whom a few words must be said. Converted in 1828 when the church \vas but seven 
years old, Mr. Lift survived until 1893, thus enjoying sixty -five years' fellowship with 
the society. For sixty-one years he was a local preacher. " His position in the King's 
Lynn station was simply unique. He grew up with it, he lived 
through two generations of members and hearers, he helped to 
nourish and make it what it is, and in turn he was nourished 
and sustained by it. In truth we may say that he was in turn 
both the child and the father of the station. He gave thought 
and time and strength to promote its spiritual growth, and his 
wealth to aid its material expansion and financial prosperity. The 
evidence of this is found in the fact that his name is cut into 
the foundation-stones of twenty-one chapels or schools, and what 
is surpassingly better, his name is cut into tables, 'not of stone,' 
but in tables that are hearts of 'flesh. Hundreds revere his 
memory, and hold his name and work in undying remembrance. 
Having grown up with the station, and become inseparably associated with all its interests 
and movements, it was but natural for the Quarterly Meeting in 1853 to appoint 
Mr. Lift as its Steward, and to renew that appointment no less than one hundred 
and twenty-six times."* 


\Ve regret that so little is known of the earlier history of the Fakenham and Upwell 
Circuits. These centres, as probably also Wisbech and Cambridge, would be amongst 
the fifty-seven places found on the plan of the Norfolk Mission, which J. Oscroft says 
was printed in April, 1821. In 1824, Fakenham Circuit had no fewer than six travelling- 
preachers appointed to it. In 1826, North Walsham Circuit was formed. This new 
circuit, as we shall see, subsequently sent Robert Key on a mission which, in 1832, 
resulted in the formation of the Mattishall afterwards called East Dereham Circuit. 
Fakenham also, in 1842, missioned Oundle in Northamptonshire, 
soon afterwards transferred to the General Missionary Committee. 

Upwell's chief claim to notice, in the absence of other information, 
must rest on the active part it took in early missionary enterprise. 
In 1828, Brandon, in Suffolk, became a circuit, and it is probable, 
as Mr. Petty seems to suggest, that it was reached by the first 
missionaries to Norfolk. At that time, what was known as 
Marshland Fen, at the western extremity of Norfolk, was a desolate 
and barren region. Little of it was then under cultivation, and 
the moral condition of its inhabitants was conformable to their 
surroundings. They habitually disregarded the Sabbath, and might 
have said with the navvy, " Sunday has not cropped out here yet "; 
for there were no ministers or places for public worship. In 1832, Mr. James Garner 

'William Lift: a Life Nourished by Service," in Aldersgate, 1894, pp. 911-13, by Rev. 
John Smith. 




made his way into Marshland, and he was soon followed by other missionaries. For 
two years services were held in the house of Mr. Collins, then in a lean-to which he 
erected near his outbuildings. Finally in 1855, largely through the generosity and 
zeal of Mr. and Mrs. Xeep and Messrs. Collins and Taylor, a neat chapel was erected 
for the society which had done so much for the moral and spiritual enlightenment 
of that neglected district. 

To two missionaries of Upwell Circuit belongs the honour of having materially extended 
the Connexion in the county of Essex. Messrs. Redhead and J. Jackson were, at 
the March Quarterly Meeting of 1838, set apart for missionary work; but no precise 
directions were given them. They went forth almost at a venture, and at the end of 
a long day's journey, found themselves at Saffron Walden, forty miles away. Here, 
on the 2nd of May, Mr. Redhead preached in the open-air in Castle Street, and he 
and his colleague also visited many villages. The entire cost of the mission for two 


years was 65, which, we are told, was regarded as unusually heavy ! The mission 
continued to prosper both before and after it was turned over to the General Missionary 
Committee, and in 1850 Saffron Walden became a circuit with 516 members. Upwell 
also missioned the city of Ely. 

The old Upwell Circuit is now Downham Market, a place first missioned, but 
afterwards given up, by Lynn. Early in the 'Thirties the Upwell Circuit, under the 
superintendency of that indefatigable and successful minister, Samuel Atterby, remissioned 
the place. A cottage was first used for services, and afterwards, in 1834, a barn was 
fitted up. The first chapel was erected in 1855, largely through the instrumentality 
of Mr. and Mrs. Kemp, who now resided at Downham Market. We give views 
of the present Church and Manse, erected in 1871, also of the late Rev. J. Kemish, 
vho spent nine useful years on this station. Downham Market has also been fortunate 



in havin" had Mr. W. Sexton Proctor as its Circuit Steward for so many years, 
a convert of John Smith (1), and a local preacher for fifty-six years. It is singular 
that this Primitive Methodist official also filled the office of churchwarden for twenty one 

years, and was twice elected by the vicar as his warden. 
The Assistant Circuit Steward, Mr. Rose, has also been, 
and is, a stay and support to the Circuit. 

Nor does this exhaust the missionary enterprises of 
the Upwell or Downham Circuit. Ely was prepared 
for self-government by being its Branch, and it began 
missions at Ramsey (now incorporated with Peterborough) 
and Buckden. 

Wisbech formed part of Upwell Circuit until 1833, 
when it was granted independence. It was first visited, 
in 1821, by the Nottingham missionaries, who took their 
stand in the Horse-Fair. At first they met with con- 
siderable opposition, and had to combat strong prejudice, 
so that slow progress was made. The first preaching- 
place was the humble cottage of a tinker who was one 
of the first converts, and this was afterwards exchanged 
for a barn. Yet Wisbech, from an early date had connected with it some estimable 
persons who had also, what was very valuable staying power. Such were Mr. Gubbins, 



Mrs. Miller, and especially Mr. M. Taylor and his wife, who were well-known in 
the district for their hospitality and Christian kindness. A notable acquisition to 
the society was Edwin Waller, a Wesleyan local preacher, who after mature delibera- 
tion, in which he counted all costs, united with the society, and continued to be its 
staunch friend and supporter until his death, in 1854. We have already met with 
several bearers of the name of Waller, who have deserved well of the Connexion. 


We do not forget the Wallers of the Manchester District, or Thomas Waller, the coke- 
burner, of Blaydon ; and this Edwin Waller, " earthenware dealer," of Wisbech, was 
evidently a notable figure in the Norwich District in his day. He was for long the 
corresponding member of its District Committee; often its' chosen representative to 
the Annual Conference, and in other ways he played an influential part. He was, we are 
told, and we can well believe it, a man of extensive reading, of close thought, and great 
originality. Being a man in easy, if not affluent circumstances, he was able to render 
material help to the struggling societies. He became responsible for the rent of the 
better preaching-room which was now taken, and he willingly incurred the responsibility 
of trusteeship for Connexional buildings. In addition to this, by his prudent counsels 
and his abundant labours as a local preacher, he greatly assisted in the development 
of the Wisbech Circuit and of Holbeach, which was a branch of Wisbech until 1855. 
The circuit took its part in missionary efforts in Huntingdonshire and at Ramsey, though 
the shifting relations of these missions to Wisbech, Up well, and other circuits is too 
intricate a matter to be unravelled here. 


Our two ancient University towns gave our first missionaries a scurvy reception. 
Oxford well-nigh smothered G. W. Bellham with filth ; Cambridge did its best to 
starve Joseph Reynolds. In August, 1821, he found his way here from distant 
Tunstall. The letter he wrote giving an account of his experience is, indeed, 
" a human document " a transcript from the life, touching in its very simplicity, and 
revealing a heroism all unconscious of itself, which even hunger could not subdue. 
As we have said elsewhere, it might have been written by a suffering follower of 
George Fox long ago. We give an extract : 

"DEAR BRETHREN, When I left Tunstall, I gave myself up to labour and 
sufferings, and I have gone through both ; but praise the Lord, it has been for 
His glory and the good of souls. My sufferings are known only to God and myself. 
1 have many times been knocked down while preaching, and have often had sore 
bones. Once I was knocked down, and was trampled under the feet of the crowd, 
and had my clothes torn, and all my money taken from me. In consequence of 
this I have been obliged to suffer much hunger. One day I travelled nearly thirty 
miles and had only a penny cake to eat. I preached at night to near two thousand 
persons. But I was so weak when I had done, that I could scarcely stand. I then 
made my supper of cold cabbage, and slept under a haystack in a field till about four 
o'clock in the morning. The singing of the birds then awoke me, and I arose and 
went into the town, and preached at five to many people. I afterwards came to 
Cambridge, where I have been a fortnight, and preached to a great congregation, 
though almost worn out with fatigue and hunger. To-day I was glad to eat the 
pea-husks as I walked on the road. But I bless God that much good has been done. 
I believe hundreds will have to bless Him in eternity for leading me hither." 

When next the curtain rises on Cambridge, March, 1824, we see it a branch of 
Nottingham, but about to be made a circuit. Its two preachers are to be lent to it 
until the District Meeting, and the new circuit is requested not to appoint Delegates 
to the said District Meeting unless they can pay their own expenses. At Midsummer 



of the same year, W. Clowes and John Nelson were at Cambridge for the purpose 
of re-opening the chapel, which had been enlarged by the putting in of a gallery. 
Clowes, preaching in the evening, had a sprinkling of collegians in his congregation, 
while the Wesleyan superintendent assisted in taking up the collection. 

Again the curtain drops, and Cambridge is lost to view ; unless, indeed, the curtain 
is unexpectedly lifted by the biographer of the Rev. Charles Simeon,* the famous 
Evangelical leader. There was, he tells us, in Cambridge, 

"A certain enthusiastic Nonconformist labourer named 'Johnny Stittle'; a kiud 
of well-meaning, self-constituted city missionary in the viler parts of Cambridge, 
and called by the undergraduates a 'Ranter.' He used to hold his meetings in a room, 
and when the attendance grew too large for one room, he threw down the partitions 
and used the whole floor of the house ; and again enlarged his improvised chapel 
by taking in also the upper story, cutting out the central part of the bedroom 
floor, but leaving enough to make a wide gallery all round, upheld by pillars. 
As he was but a day-labourer, it was understood that Mr. Simeon aided him in the 
expense of these alterations. This man and his services were the butt of many 
a thoughtless young gownsman, who used to stand outside and look in at his 
chapel window and listen for amusement's sake, and whose annoyances he yet 
patiently and kindly bore. On some occasion of bitterness he is said to have 
invited a railing youth to his house to partake of the ' herby-pie ' supper provided 
for himself and family, and then persuaded him to stay and join in his simple 
but hearty family worship, which resulted in the young man's beginning to think 
seriously on religion, and ultimately becoming a valuable clergyman."* 

In this extract the "self-constituted city missionary" has given him the same reproachful 
name our fathers bore; nor, indeed, do we know of any other denomination, besides 
our own, that, before 1836 the year of Simeon's death would have made room for 
John Stittle and his methods. We have not the least objection to acknowledge him 
as one of ourselves, especially as the sermon given as a specimen of his preaching 
would do no discredit to any Cambridge pulpit. 

In the course of years, circuits, like soldiers on a long march, are apt to drop out 
of the ranks. So it was with Cambridge, for a short time. 
In 1842, it ranks as the eighteenth circuit in the Norwich 
District, whereas it began, in 1825, as the third. The explanation 
is that for three years 1834 to 1836 inclusive it disappeared 
from the list of stations, but came on again in 1837. The plan 
of 1842 shows six places-, which include Waterbeach, St. Ives, 
and Huntingdon. St. Peter's Street Chapel had recently been 
acquired, and by 1855 the progress of the circuit was such that 
a second chapel was secured in Barnwell, the eastern district of 
the town. This was Fitzroy Street Chapel, the first which the 
Wesleyans had possessed in Cambridge, and had now vacated. 
This building was secured on generous terms, and opened by 
Miss M. C. Buck, the most popular female preacher in this period of our history. 

* " Recollections of the Conversational Parties of the Rev. Charles Simeon, etc.," by A. W. 
Brown, M.A., pp. 13-15.. 



Miss Buck was called into the ministry by the Burland Circuit in 1836 and although, 
unlike Miss Bultitude, she ceased " to travel " in the technical sense, she continued to 
be in great request for special services. The fact that Cambridge provided for the 
Conference of 1857 marks the advance which, by this time, it had made. 

A word as to the interesting towns of Huntingdon and St. Ives, so full of Cromwellian 
associations. From the Journals of W. Dawson in the Magazine for 1822, we learn that 
as a preacher of the Boston Circuit, he spent a week in missioning this neighbourhood. 
Under date of September 2nd, 1821, he writes: "I spoke to a large congregation in 
the market-place at Huntingdon. Some seemed to wonder, some mocked, and some 
wept. At two, I spoke at Godmanchester : very many attended. At six, T. Steele, 
from Tunstall, spoke at Huntingdon, together with a blind young man out of Cheshire." 
He further says he formed a class of seven members at Godmanchester. Whether 


Wisbech found any vestiges of this visit when it began its missionary labours in 
Huntingdonshire, we know not. As for St. Ives, tradition, apparently trustworthy, 
gives 1837 as the year when Primitive Methodism entered the town. It is said to have 
been brought by one Bridge and Mrs. Beel. The former is on the Cambridge plan 
of 1842 and, as a member of the Circuit Committee, was evidently a leading official. 
The first building occupied is said to have been the old Baptist Chapel in Water Lane, 
and much later a remove Avas made to a building on the Quay, said to be the oldest 
meeting-house in Huntingdonshire, having been used by successive bodies of Noncon- 
formists for two hundred years. This was occupied until the present new and handsome 
building was erected.* In 1897, the General Missionary Committee made St. Ives 
a circuit, and it was annexed to the Lynn and Cambridge District. 

* See article in Aldersgate Magazine, 1896, pp. 282-6. 

r 2 



Though one of the primary circuits of the original Norwich District, this strong 
circuit was in its beginning an offshoot of Norwich. Yet persistent tradition points 
to a man rather than to a circuit, to individual Christian effort rather than to official 
action, as having paved the way for the establishment of a Primitive Methodist cause 
in Yarmouth. One Driver, a Primitive Methodist from the Midlands, drawn here by 
his employment, is said to have preached in the open-air and, if he did not actually 
organise a society, to have " made ready a people prepared for the Lord." However 
this may be and one could wish it might be true we are on undisputed ground in 
giving 1822 as the date when the evangelists from Norwich took their stand on the 
Hog Hill, with their backs to the Fisherman's Hospital Avail, and proclaimed the gospel. 
J. Brame, a travelling preacher, and Mr. J. Turnpenny are said to have been the names 
of the missionaries. Periodical visits continued to be paid by the preachers from 
Norwich, and on February 14th, 1823, a preaching licence was obtained for a house 
in Row 60. In 1824, Yarmouth was made a circuit, and it appears as the fifth station 
of the newly-formed Norwich District on the stations for 1825. 

Just as the magnificent Church of the Nativity, built by Helena, the mother of 
Constantine, has deep down at its heart the rocky stable where Christ was born, linking 
together on the same spot the present and the past in striking contrast, so the Temple, 
the chief edifice of Yarmouth Primitive Methodism, stands on the identical site of the 
hay-loft which, in 1829, was the society's humble sanctuary. The Temple epitomises 
the history of our Church in the town, alike in its continuity and the striking contrast 
it presents to the first and successive buildings it has superseded. First there stood 
here the hay-loft already mentioned. It was the upper storey of a building which had 
once done duty as a joiner's shop. Its roof was pantiled, its once unglazed apertures 
were now filled in with small-paned leaded windows, and it was furnished with stiff 
rail-backed seats. In front of the loft was an open space, flanked by a saw-pit on one 
side and by stables on the other. This open space was reached by a path some ten 
feet wide, having some tumble-down, disreputable town-houses on either hand. For 
these domiciles the occupants paid no rent : they were mere squatters unthrifty, idle, 
depraved ; so that intending worshippers had to make their way 
to the hay-loft through filthy and repulsive surroundings, and run 
the gauntlet of ribald jests or maledictions. Yet this unsavoury 
spot had a history going far back ; for the hay-loft rested partly 
on, and partly over, a portion of the old town-wall, and it stood 
on the Priory Plain, afore-time covered by a religious house. 
So here, at Yarmouth, as at Lynn and Scarborough, Primitive 
Methodism put its sanctuary down on the very spot where, in 
Medieval times, monks abode, where they paced to and fro in the 
cloisters and chanted in the choir, until they sank into sloth 
and vice, and King Henry, as the besom of the Lord, swept 

>i.\.\I I i'.l. Al I r.lil. i . 

them all away. 

Stage No. 2 was reached when "the diligent and judicious Samuel Atterby " turned 
the unpolished building into a galleried chapel. It was in 1827 that this first Tabernacle 



was reared, and it lasted until 1850. Then, as John Smith, the superintendent, was in 
declining health and Hearing the verge, Thomas Swindell indefatigably laboured at the 
scheme of enlargement. This was done for both chapel and school at a cost of 750. 
In connection with the opening of this second Tabernacle, a truly 
monster tea-meeting was held that is talked of to this day. 
Seven marquees were joined to form one tent, pitched in front 
of the Children's Hospital, and here eleven hundred people sat 
down at the tables. By the erection of "the Temple" in 1876 
the crowning stage was surely reached; but, lest it should be 
thought that pride had anything to do with the bestowment 
of the name, its genesis had better be recorded. When it was 
suggested that the proposed building should be called a " Church," 
a veteran local preacher exclaimed : " Church ? You'd better call 
THOMAS SWINDELL. j t a Temple straight away " j and Temple it was called. The 
only untoward event that marred the success of the Temple, was an accident that 


occurred Avhile it was in course of erection. By the fall of coping-stones a young 

workman almost immediately lost his life, and Mr. T. Kirk, a trustee 

deeply interested in the progress of the building, received such 

hurt as resulted in his death. Mercifully, Mr. T. W. Swindell, 

who was with him at the time, escaped without injury. As the 

Rev. T. Swindell had so much to do with the building of the 

second Tabernacle, so his son, just named, the Steward of the 

Circuit, by his zeal, financial skill, and fertility of resource, 

greatly contributed to bring this larger enterprise to a successful 


Yarmouth has a good record for its Sunday School work. 
Very early a Sunday School was established, at which writing 


as well as reading was taught. It was located first in the 

Garden Row, subsequently in the two other rooms shown in our pictures, and then 



it was removed in turn to the old and to the new school-rooms. The weekly marching 
of the children at one time numhering five hundred through the streets to the 
chapel, stirred up the church people of the town to establish a school for them- 
selves. Messrs. R. Todd, J. F. Neave, Robert Bell, \V. Patterson, and W. Buddery 
have successively laboured through the years as superintendents or Bible-class teachers, 
in connection with the school. Of these and others, interesting reminiscences are given 
by Mr. Arthur Patterson in his monograph on Yarmouth Primitive Methodism, to 
which we express large indebtedness.* Mr. Patterson, as an old scholar and infant 
class teacher and "lightning sketcher," has found a congenial task ; nor would any history 
of Yarmouth Primitive Methodism be complete which should contain no reference to 


what Mr. Patterson has achieved in other directions. By his contributions to our 
Connexional literature, and by his recent works on Natural History, recording the 
results of "years of careful observation, he has obtained a more than local reputation, 
while the story of his life of self-help and devotion to natural science is worthy to be 
placed side by side with the lives of Edward, or Dick of Thurso. 

Previous to the building of the Temple, extensions in the borough had taken place by 
the erection, at the South End, of Queen Street Chapel (1867). Mr. George Baker, J.P., 
materially assisted in this extension, and afterwards received the thanks of Conference 
for his gift to the chapel of an organ costing 130. 

* "From Hayloft to Temple : the Story of Primitive Methodism in Yarmouth." 1903. London, 
R. Brvant. 



Now a Tramps' Lodging-house. 

So far as persecution by the populace is con- 
cerned, Yarmouth can show a clean sheet. In 
the early days, the singing of the old hymns 
seems to have operated like a charm in mollify- 
ing the passions of those whom it drew to the 
open-air services. Once and again the authorities 
have backslidden into intolerance, and their 
attempts to put down preaching in the open 
spaces of the town have had to be resisted. 
The worst case occurred in 1854, when several 
persons were arrested for holding a service at 
the Hall Quay. At the trial which ensued, 
the accused were ably defended by Mr. Tillett 
of Norwich, a staunch Nonconformist. The 
magistrates found themselves in a cleft stick 
and, in the end, the case was dismissed. At a 
later period the authorities had another relapse, 
but the Rev. John Smith (2) at once took steps 
to vindicate the right to hold services at the 
Jetty. It is but due to say that, in 1888, the 

Salvation Army were much more roughly handled at Yarmouth than our fathers had 

ever been, and the magistrates incurred considerable odium by instituting proceedings 

against them a course which, in the end, produced a strong reaction in their favour. 
By successive partitions, Yarmouth has 

become five circuits at least. As early as 

1823, Wangford, twenty miles away, and 

Beccles fifteen, were within its area, and 

regularly supplied with preachers. When, 

in 1833, the Wangford Branch was made a 

circuit, with Richard Howchin as its superin- 
tendent, it reported 233 members. Extensive 

missionary operations were at once begun in 

the surrounding villages. More than a score 

of these were visited, and many of them were 

morally transformed. The result was seen in 

the report of 540 members given to the Con- 
ference of 1835. Wangford has been, and 

still is a strong country station, and from the 

beginning has always had in it a number of 

loyal adherents of the Connexion. 

Lowestoft was an integral part of Yarmouth 

Circuit until 1870, and Acle and Martham 

until 1883. Alderman Adam Adams was called 

into the ministry by Yarmouth Circuit, and stationed there 1852-4; but his health 

Our old Schoolroom on the right. 



failing him he became a successful man of business, and has long been one of 
Lowestoft's prominent and public-spirited citizens. He has been its Mayor, a candidate 
for Parliamentary honours, and he is a Justice of the Peace. 
But, it is safe to say, he attaches more importance to the 
position he holds as a hard-working local preacher and active 
official. He hag few vacant Sundays; his time being equally 
divided between his own circuit and lending assistance to 
neighbouring ones. His Connexional recognition came in 1 900 
when he was appointed Vice-President of Conference, and as 
such his portrait will be found hereafter in its due order. 

We must refer our readers to Mr. Patterson's book for 
interesting reminiscences of some of the veteran local preachers 
of the Yarmouth Circuit men like John Bitton. who was on 


the plan of 1824, and preached when he was eighty-four, dying 
at last, in 1886, at ninety- three years of age; William Perry, forty-six years a local 


preacher ; George Bell, who gave thirty-seven years of his life to the same work, and 
two sons to the ministry ; John Mason, a local preacher for 
over thirty-six years ; and Henry Futter, still spared to the 
Church he has served so long. 

Mr. Patterson also gives the names of some twenty ministers 
whom the Yarmouth Circuit has sent forth. The list includes 
the names of J. G. Smith, the son of John Smith (1) ; of 
George and Benjamin Bell ; G. Rudram and F. B. Paston. But 
of all who in the early days were closely associated with 
Yarmouth, none left so deep and lasting an impression on the 
District, of which they were largely the makers and fashioners, 
as did John Smith (1) and Robert Key. It was at Yarmouth 
the former closed at once his ministry of twenty-seven years RICHARD HOWCHIN. 



and his life. It was at Yarmouth, too, Robert Key began his Christian course. The 
presence at the services of the rough coal-heaver occasioned surprise not unmixed 
with fear ; for it was hard to think anything but a mischievous intent had brought 
him there. Like Clowes he was a branch, but rougher and more unpromising, of 
the "olive tree which is wild by nature;" but he was "grafted in" "brought in" 
our fathers termed it and the process was finished on Easter Sunday, 1823, and 
very soon the new nature began to show itself in the overcoming of the defects 
of a meagre education and of a strong but undisciplined character. By 1825 or 1826 
he had become a local preacher, when local preachers were few and their journeys long 
and frequent. It is interesting to note that Anthony Race of Weardale, who died at 
Yarmouth in 1828, was of great assistance to Robert Key by his powerful preaching 
of the doctrine of entire sanctification, and still more by the exemplification of the 
doctrine in his own life. The influence exerted upon him by this apostolic man was so 
great that, we are told, " no wear or tear of years or circumstances was ever able to 
efface it." In 1828, Robert Key received his call to the ministry. 

It is but natural we should desire to know something more than can be derived from 





tradition, however trustworthy, of these men to whom Primitive Methodism in the 
Eastern Counties owed so much in the early days. Fortunately, we have a sketch of 
these two pioneers by a contemporary and competent hand. Mr. G. T. Goodrick, who 
had himself been a travelling preacher for three years, retired in 1835 to Yarmouth, 
where he became a leading official. He became well known to the Connexional 
authorities, and their confidence in him is seen in his appointment as one of the 
Connexional Auditors. Mr. Goodrick left behind him a " Life " of Robert Key, which 
has never been published. From this valuable work we take the following discriminating 
characterisation of John Smith (1) and Robert Key : 

"John Smith a man of God ; of all we have met, we think we never did find 
a man so much under the influence of ' this travailing for souls.' He was not a 
great preacher. He had no acquired powers of oratory. His pulpit efforts were 
generally disjointed in arrangement ; and, as a man seeking popularity by such 
methods, he would certainly have failed. But no hearer could doubt his sincerity, 
nor fail to perceive, if he had spiritual perception at all, that the preacher felt for 
souls. Indeed, he was a man of two ideas personal holiness and the conversion 
of sinners. These were, one or the other, generally both, the burden of his 



sermons, and the topics of his conversation. And so constantly and so surely 
did he think of men as sinners, and the necessity of their salvation, that it some- 
times absorbed all other considerations of time and place, and made him silent 
in the midst of the most congenial society. At other times he would literally 
groan as if under a burden, and would express himself as if he could not live 
unless souls were saved. This, to some, seemed to savour of rudeness, indecorum, 
and even of a pharisaical spirit. But what prayers ! what power ! what influence 
attended his words ! We have heard him pray until the place was as if shaken. 
He was as a prince with God, for wrestling he overcame, and streams of mercy 
flowed among the assembly. We have known him lay his hand upon persons and 
bring them to their knees without uttering a word ; and a whole congregation, 
as it were, gasp for breath while listening to his impassioned and inspired appeals, 
in which he was sometimes lost for language, and coming to a sudden stop would 
electrify his hearers by a single word or shout of 'Glory !' a shout that was, as 
a simple countrj'man expressed it, 'Worth some men's whole sermons.' His soul 
burned within him to save the souls of others, and, as in other instances, burned 
too fast for endurance ; and after a brilliant career of success in some circuits 
in the Norwich District, entered into rest, December 7th, 1851, at the early age 
of fifty-one. 

" Between these two men, Brothers Key and Smith, there was a great similarity 
of feeling, thought, and experience, and if need be, we might almost substitute 
one mental picture for another ; only Mr. Key was of a livelier disposition, a warmer 
temperament, had greater mental resources, and a greater aptitude for the business 
and arrangements incident to the establishment of a church or society. He was 
thus better qualified as a missionary, while his good brother Smith found a field 
for labour in the already enclosed portions of his Master's vineyard. Both toiled 
and wept and prayed, 'travailing for souls,' and now both 'rest from their labours 
and their works do follow them.'" 


The work done in East Anglia between 1825 and 1842 was remarkable, even on the 
imperfect showing of statistics. Here are the figures for the two years set out side by 
side, making comparison easy and leading to an obvious inference. 






- 19 


- 13 


- 59 


- 1546 


- 9072 

And yet the figures furnish but imperfect evidence. From the very nature of the case 
a very large percentage of the direct, no less than the indirect, results accomplished, 
must have fallen to the share of Churches which seemed to have a strong hereditary 
claim and had more to offer. Often enough they carried off the full stook to their 
well-filled granary, and left us only the gleanings of our own harvest. The words of 
Christ were reversed : We laboured, and others entered into our labours. Especially 
was this the case in Suffolk and Essex, where the Congregational and Baptist Churches 



have deeply rooted themselves. At Bury St. Edmunds, for example, Mr. Petty tells 
of a Nonconformist minister who stated that he had admitted eighty persons to 
church-membership, who attributed their enlightenment to the open-air preaching of the 
Primitive Methodists. This is not written by way of complaint, but simply to show 
that, in any estimate of the good effected by our Church in the Eastern Counties during 
this time, account must also be taken of the extent to which other Churches were 
augmented and quickened by our labours. 

But as to these figures themselves : they represent a most active and persistent village 
evangelisation. Some idea of the network reticulations of this evangelisation may be 
gained by an inspection of the circuit plans of the time. Here, for instance, is the 
plan of North Walsham Circuit, in the north-eastern corner of Norfolk, for the year 
1835. And what a plan it is! as large as a page of the Primitive Methodist World, 
having on it the names of sixty-one villages and sixty-nine preachers and exhorters. 

And here is the plan of the 
Mattishall, now East Dereham 
Circuit and Saham Branch, not 
much smaller than that of North 
Walsham, showing fifty-two vil- 
lages and forty-five preachers. 
When we get to know how the 
Mattishall Circuit was carved out 
of Mid-Norfolk by Eobert Key, 
this plan becomes a most signifi- 
cant broadsheet. The story of 
the making of this circuit is an 
interesting chapter in Norfolk 
village evangelisation a chapter 
which rightly begins by showing 
us the antecedents of these half- 
hundred villages in the heart of Norfolk ; what was their moral and religious condition 
before Robert Key set foot in them and went on circuit. Had we a map of the 
England of that time a map showing, by its gradations of light and shade, how near 
any district approached to the recognised standard of good morals and religion, or 
how far it fell short of such standard, then we should find these parts around East 
Dereham deeply shaded, while some of the villages thereabouts, would stand out on 
the map like dark islets. 

In justification of what is here written we would adduce the testimony of 
Canon Jessopp, the genial archaeologist, historian, and broad-minded political economist. 
No man knows the history of his own county, or the past and present condition of the 
peasantry of Norfolk, better than he. In 1879, he was instituted to the rectory of 
Seaming, near East Dereham, and in his "The Arcady of our Grandfathers," he has 
put down what, by skilful questioning of the oldest inhabitants, he could gather con- 
cerning the former manner of life of the labourers and smaller farmers of Seaming and 
the neighbouring parishes. Arcady, indeed ! It is no picture of Arcadian innocence 

Where Cowper was buried. 


we get from these combined narratives, but ratber one of more than Boeotian rudeness. 
There were, perhaps, fewer public-houses eighty years ago than now, and the drinking 
of ardent spirits was little known then, though there was much beery drunkenness. 
There was a strain of cruelty running through social life. Masters beat the boys in 
their employ, and not infrequently their serving-men ; wife-beating was so common 
as to attract little notice. Cock-fighting was the popular sport; football matches 
were played on the Sunday. Profanity and dissoluteness were crying evils, while 
a good part of the little religion there was, ran into superstition or gross formalism. 
At the annual fair-time men indulged in a surfeit of wickedness and pleasure, as though 
they would make up by a debauch for the enforced abstinence of the working year. 
Crime, too, was rife: "During the nine years ending in 1808, there were actually 
committed to the four prisons at Wymondham, Aylsham, Walsingham, and Norwich 
Castle, the enormous aggregate of 2336 men and women, to whom we may be sure 
little mercy was shown." * 

Testimony, corroborative of that given by Canon Jessopp, is also furnished by 
Mr. G. T. Goodrick, already named, who was one of the ministers of Lynn Circuit in 
1832, and residing at Swaffham when Robert Key was prosecuting his East Dereham 
mission. He writes as one who had been on the ground and had an intimate 
knowledge of the people. The quotation from him here given has a value beyond its 
special local reference, as it fairly and fully presents the claim of our Church to 
have fastened on the agricultural villages of our land wheu others passed them by. 
He probably had the villages of East Anglia specially in his mind, but his words 
are equally true of other parts of rural England in the 'Twenties and 'Thirties. After 
claiming that the Church to which Robert Key was attached had laboured much, 
and contributed no little, to spread the leaven of righteousness and thereby exalt the 
nation, he continues: 

" Wesleyanism with its peculiar organisation had won, and deservedly won, her 
laurels, and could boast of spoils taken from the hand of the mighty, and these, 
too, from among the villages and cottages of many a tract of English soil, where 
the sound of the church-going bell was seldom heard, or if it were heard, it 
spoke in vain. But it will not be denied that Wesleyanism had not done all that 
was needed, or all that she could have done ; and if the Wesleyans turned their 
strength to the evangelisation of large towns so be it ; they thought it best, 
and God is with them. But there was a class to reach, 'a region beyond,' which 
they had not penetrated ; a people to whom religion was unknown except by 
name, whose morals were loose, and their habits vicious ; a class from which the 
ranks of the poacher, the farm-robber, and the stack-burner were ever and anon 
recruited. The character of the labouring class in the agricultural counties was 
fearfully deteriorated ; it had become almost brutish. Cock-fighting, dog-fighting, 
and man-fighting were cruel sports freely indulged in ; the cricket club and foot- 
ball had their field-day on the Sabbath, and a drunken orgie at a fair was planned 
and provided for out of hard-earned wages weeks before its appointed day. Much 
has been said of the sins of the city, but if we were to care to draw the veil from 
country-town and village-life of seventy or eighty years ago,t the seeming disparity 

* " Arcady : For Better or Worse." 6th Edition, p. 50. 

1 1 have altered the figure to allow for the efflux of time since these words were written. 


between the moral life of city and country would vanish, or rather the sins of the 
former would be eclipsed by the deeper darkness of the latter. But God knew it 
all ! and, if we may not claim a plenary inspiration for the earlier missionaries 
of the Connexion, who will dare deny that the ' Spirit of the Lord God was upon 
them, anointing them to preach the gospel to the poor'] This was, indeed, mission 
work a mission to the heathen in all but in name, and to this work Brother Key 
addressed himself in all the vigour of manhood, faith in the divinity of his mission, 
and constrained by the love of Christ to seek the souls of men." (MS. " Life of 
Robert Key," pp. 49, 50.) 

As the Mid-Norfolk of 1830 may be taken as a typical Norfolk village-mission-field 
though it must be confessed the type is very pronounced and at its highest power so 
Robert Key may be taken as the type of the East Anglian pioneer missionary. If we 
had written "the ideal East Anglian missionary," we should not have been far wrong. 
Robert Key began his ministry in North Walsham Circuit in 1828, and thence was 
sent to open his mission in central Norfolk. The task that lay before him was such 
as would have tested the physical stamina of the strongest, the courage of the boldest, 
the resourcefulness of the most experienced. He had no one " to hold the rope." 
He had to make his own way, like a movable column in the 
enemy's territory, with no base to lean upon. He preached in the 
open-air or in houses that might be offered him, and suffering as well 
as labour was his lot. Instead of being welcomed and encouraged 
as a herald of the gospel, he was by many treated as a pestilent 
fellow to be got rid of at all costs. Certain places in the district 
made themselves specially notorious by the bitterness of their 
opposition. " Shipdham, Watton, and East Dereham," says Mr. Key, 
" might have been matched against any other three places of similar 
size for brutal violence and inveterate hatred of the truth. 
ROBERT KEY. Of the three places I think Shipdham was the worst." At 

Watton, some years before, a Wesleyan minister had attempted 

to preach the gospel in the open air, but he was shamefully treated, and barely 
escaped with his life. Here, on August 16th, 1832, Mr. Key took his stand in 
the Market-place. It was soon pretty evident that mischief was abroad. A number 
of men who had been primed with drink by some of the " respectables " of the town, 
gathered round, and first tried to drown the preacher's voice by clamour and by percussion. 
Then, a rush was made ; the preacher was knocked, down, trampled upon and kicked. 
He struggled to his feet and got on his chair again still preaching. Another rush 
with the result that Key was tossed backward and forward like a football. Then 
missiles began to fly, and it looked as though the unprovoked riot would end in murder 
when, suddenly, deliverance came and from an unexpected quarter. Some of the 
ringleaders, though still under the influence of drink, were seized with compunction, 
and changed sides. They rallied round the breathless and battered preacher, planted 
themselves round him as a body-guard, and got him away with difficulty, shouting : 
"You are right and AVC are wrong, and no man shall hurt you!" This unlooked-for 
development was, we are told, a disappointment to the "respectable" men who had 


instigated the disturbance, one of whom was the person entrusted by a paternal state 
with the cure of souls. 

As for Shipdham, Mr. Goodrick fully bears out what Mr. Key has said of it. " It 
made itself infamous by its long course of bitterest opposition to the preachers, and no 
wonder; for, if Satan had a seat upon earth it was there," and more, and stronger 
words he writes, which we need not give. We will also pass over the details of the 
annoyances to which the preacher and his little flock were so long exposed, since these 
had not even the small merit of originality. One little fact, however, we chronicle 
here, partly to show what spirit the people were of, and partly to embalm the memory 
of a poor widow, " destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy." 
A poor Frenchwoman of Shipdham became a special object of persecution. Upon her 
was heaped ridicule, taunts, and blows. She was driven from one lodging to another 
and, had it been possible, some would have denied her even a pauper's bread ; and all 
because she dared to become, and declared herself to be, " a thorough Primitive." 

Though Robert Key had many marvellous escapes from bodily injury, he did not 
bear a charmed life. Once at Reepham, for example, he was hit with a stone thrown 
by the hand of the zealous parish clerk, and bled profusely. " But why," it will be 
asked " were not such miscreants brought to justice ? " "We answer : once, and once 
only, was a summons taken out against persecutors, and why the experiment was not 
repeated the sequel will show. It was at this same Reepham, Key was followed by 
another preacher who, borrowing a chair, began a service; but he was pulled down, and 
by clamour and violence compelled to desist. The attack was so outrageous that, in 
order to avoid worse consequences from the rough and ready action of the justifiably 
incensed populace, Mr. Key reluctantly consented to seek legal redress. The result 
shall be stated by Mr. Goodrick : 

"To the everlasting disgrace of the magistrates, the chicanery of the legal 
adviser, and the subterfuges of the law itself were so well used that, although 
everybody else saw through the whole thing, justice was blind, and her constituted 
ministers dismissed the case ! and, by way of administering some soothing palliative 
to the outraged feelings of the influential and respectable blackguards of Reepham, 
condescended to stoop so low as to pour a tirade of abuse upon Mr. Key, which 
for virulence of language might have been borrowed from Billingsgate. Such has 
often been the result of an appeal to the law for protection, especially when 
the clerical magistrate occupies the bench and derogates from his character as 
a minister of the gospel by professing to administer criminal law." (MS. "Life 
of Robert Key," p. 76). 

The language is vigorous, but not one whit more so than that employed by John Foster 
who, in speaking of. these attacks on the inoffensive preachers of the gospel, once so 
common, says : " These savage tumults were generally instigated or abetted, sometimes 
under a little concealment, but often avowedly, by persons of higher condition, and 
even by those consecrated to the office of religious instruction ; and this advantage of 
their station was lent to defend the perpetrators against shame, or remorse, or just 
punishment, for the outrage."* No wonder that, after his first experience of Justices' 

* " Evils of Popular Ignorance," pp. 75-6. 




justice, Robert Key should say : " Never more ! Come what may I will suffer it and 
leave my cause with God." 

The outer conflicts Robert Key had to wage during his Mattishall Mission, had their 
reflection and counterpart in the inner conflicts which formed so 
remarkable a feature of his experience at this time. As we read of 
these we are reminded of the views held by J. Crawfoot, H. Bourne, 
and others of the fathers as to the nature of spiritual conflicts. 
They would have said, in explanation, that such conflicts were to 
be expected ; that he was taking upon him the burden of souls ; 
that there was " a conflict of atmospheres." Sometimes a darkness 
which might be felt would come upon him, and a feeling of 
hardness, and he had to hold on grimly by naked faith, and 
wrestle until the day broke, and his heart softened again as with 
the dew of the morning. So it was on his first visit to Saham 
Toney on June 10th, 1832. While he was preaching in the 
open-air the heavens became suddenly overcast, and the rain came down in torrents. 
His appeal for a house or place of shelter in which to finish the service, was met 
by the offer of a house formerly a workhouse capable of holding two hundred 
people. Many followed him there, but for the first twenty minutes "all appeared 
hard and dark, and nothing moved." Then the cloud passed, and men and women 
began to fall to the ground, while others hurried away as if the house were on fire, in 
impenitent terror and defiance. "Did his spiritual foes," asks Mr. Goodrick, "on 

leaving Mr. Key, attack his hearers, 
to drive them from the place ? " It 
was an eventful service. In the fiery 
trial of that night was forged a link 
in the providential chain of events 
which led to the conversion of 
C. H. Spurgeon ; for, amongst those 
who were won that night, was Mary 
Eaglen, whose changed and Christly 
life so impressed her brother that it 
was one of the main factors in his 
conversion, which took place soon 
after. Mr. Eaglen spent two of 
the thirty-six years of his active 
ministry in Ipswich Circuit, of 
which Colchester was then a branch, 
and it was he who, on a snowy 
morning in the winter of 1850, 
directed the youth of God's election 
to look and be saved. The pulpit in which Mr. Eaglen then stood is preserved in 
the Stockwell Orphanage. On October llth, 1864, Mr. Spurgeon preached in the 
old Colchester Chapel (erected 1839) from the text used in his conversion; and it 

As it was. 



demonstrations of growing 
were these camp meetings 

was quite fitting that Rev. W. Moore should, in 1897, place a tablet in the chapel 
commemorative of the event. 

Despite the opposition of some unreasonable and evil men in East Anglia (most of 
whom afterwards got their deserts), " the word of God was not bound," but rather had 
"free course and was glorified." Some mighty camp meetings gave it impetus and 
helped it forward. That such numbers of people could be brought together in districts 
not thickly populated, attested the hold the new religious movement already had got 

on the rural population. But not as 
aggregations of people merely, or as 

mighty. The word belongs to them 
rather because they were generators 
and distributors of spiritual force ; they 
were " mighty before God to the casting 
down of strongholds." Mighty in all 
these senses was the camp meeting held 
at East Tuddenham on June 12th, 1831, 
which may therefore serve as type and 
representative of many another similar 
gathering in various parts of East Anglia. 
" It was thought there were thousands 
of people present " at this Mid-Norfolk 
camp meeting. " This," says Mr. Key, 
" was the most powerful meeting I ever 
witnessed. It was thought that more 
than fifty were set at liberty." 

We come across traces and echoes 
of some of these camp meetings in 
our accepted literature. Readers of 
Lavengro * will recall the fine description 
of a Norfolk camp meeting in that 
fascinating book. We challenge that 
camp meeting for a Primitive Methodist 
one ; for, as surely as it took place as 
pictured, so surely would no other denomination save our own have owned it at the 
time, and it is too late now for any other to prefer its claim. Let our readers turn to 
this passage in Lavengro. Our present concern with it is to adduce the testimony 
of George Borrow who spent his later years at Oulton, near Lowestoft as to the 
ameliorative influences which camp meeting preachers and preaching exerted upon the 
rural parishes of East Anglia . 

"There stood the preacher, one of those men and, thank God, their number is 
not few who, animated by the Spirit of Christ, amidst much poverty, arid alas ! 

* Lavengro. Chapter xxv. 

ANHL !6 T * 1897 



much contempt, persist in carrying the light of the gospel amidst the dark parishes 
of what, but for their instrumentality, would scarcely be Christian England." 

Dark parishes they were, indeed, in the 'Thirties, not only in East Anglia, but in many 
other parts of rural England. While the misguided emissaries of " Capt. Swing " 
were burning down farmsteads and destroying machinery, Robert Key and his 
coadjutors were amongst them, practically doing national police-duty, and doing it 
without pay or recognition, and what is more, they often accomplished by their village 
evangelism what police patrols and magistrates were unable to effect. The biographies 
of the time bear witness to the wide-spread alarm which these agrarian disturbances 
created. Here, for example, is a reminiscence of the childhood days of J. Ewing Ritchie, 
spent at Wrentham, in Suffolk : 

"I can never forget the feeling of terror with which, on those dark and dull 
winter nights, I looked out of my bedroom window to watch the lurid light flaring 
up into the black clouds around, which told how wicked men were at their mad 
work, how fiendish passion had triumphed, how some honest farmer was reduced 
to ruin, as he saw the efforts of a life of industry consumed by the incendiary's 
fire. It was long before I ceased to shudder at the name of ' Swing.' " * 

Robert Key, we repeat, was down amongst the rick-burners. In one parish, the 
miscreants had plotted to burn down all the farm-houses in the district, and had 
actually succeeded in burning down seventeen, when their incendiarism was stopped 
by the advent of the Primitive Methodist missionaries, bearing no other weapon than 
the Gospel. Said a grateful farmer to Robert Key: "It cost me two shillings a night 
all through the winter to have my house watched, and then we went to bed full of 
anxiety lest we should be burnt out before morning. But you came here and sang 
and prayed about the streets for you can never get these ' varmints ' into a church or 
chapel. But your people brought the red-hot gospel to bear upon them in the street, 
and it laid hold of their guilty hearts, and now these people are good members of 
your Church." 

Great, indeed, have been the changes for the better brought about in those parts 
of East Anglia we have glanced at, since Primitive Methodism was introduced into 
tuem, and in effecting those changes it has had a chief part. No longer is North-East 
Norfolk called New Siberia because of the backward condition of its inhabitants, as it 
was called when R. Key began his labours in the North Walsham Circuit. In this corner 
of the county is the newly-formed Holt and Sheringham Circuit, carved out of Briston 
and Aylsham Circuits. The rising watering-place and fishing village of Sheringham 
is now as bright a spot on our Connexional map as Filey, or Cullercoats, or Staithes, or 
Banks, of which places it reminds us. In its pretty village-chapel Christians of various 
communities love to join with the fishermen in their hearty worship, and occasionally, 
like Dr. Fairbairn, taste a fresh experience in relating their Christian experience at the 
call of a guernsey-clad leader. 

We have glanced at the missioning of North- West Norfolk by Lynn Circuit. The 
Rev. F. B. Paston tells us that, even in 1862, when he began his labours on the 

* " East Anglia. Personal Eecollections and Historical Associations," p. 31. 


Docking Station in this division of the county, the villages of which the circuit is 
composed, were in a sad condition of ignorance, poverty, and serfdom. The squire and 
the parson ruled. To eat, to drink, to sleep this was the routine of the labourers' 
life. But a few began to think and read and discuss, and got their eyes opened to 
discern their wants. As formulated, these were the establishment of a trades union, 
direct Parliamentary representation, and a living wage. Thirty years after, when 
Mr. Paston returned to the station, the objects aimed at had been gained. The day of 
emancipation for the agricultural labourers had come at last. Joseph Arch, the founder 
of the Labourers' Union and a Primitive Methodist local preacher, was member for 
North-West Norfolk. The composition of the Parish Council showed that the long 
sowing and waiting had not been in vain, that the East Anglian peasant had won his 
freedom and knew how to use it. 

We have already quoted Canon Jessopp as to the former condition of the peasantry 
of Mid-Norfolk. The same high and unexceptionable authority may be quoted as to 
the influence our Church has exerted and still exerts in East Anglia, where, he tells 
us the immense majority of those who attend Nonconformist chapels are Primitive 
Methodists. This reference to our Church must not suffer curtailment, and it is with 
a pride, surely pardonable, we give it place here. 

" Explain it how we will, and draw our inferences as we choose, there is no 
denying it that in hundreds of parishes in England the stuffy little chapel by the 
wayside has been the only place where for many a long day the very existence 
of religious emotion has been recognised ; the only place in which the yearnings 
of the soul and its strong crying and tears have been allowed to express themselves 
in the language of the moment unfettered by rigid forms ; the only place where 
the agonised conscience has been encouraged and invited to rid itself of its sore 
burden by confession, and comforted by at least the semblance of sympathy ; 
the only place where the peasantry have enjoyed the free expression of their 
opinions, and where, under an organisation elaborated with extraordinary sagacity, 
they have kept up a school of music, literature, and politics, self-supporting and 
unaided by dole or subsidy above all, a school of eloquence, in which the lowliest 
has become familiarised with the ordinary rules of debate, and has been trained 
to express himself with directness, vigour, and fluency. What the Society of Jesus 
was among the more cultured classes in the sixteenth century, what the Friars 
were to the masses in the towns during the thirteenth, that the Primitive 
Methodists are in a fair way of becoming among the labouring classes in East 
Anglia in our own time."* 


Brandon, made a circuit in 1828, demands an additional word. No one, judging by 
the present shrunken proportions of the "Brandon and Methwold" station, would suspect 
that its precursor figured so largely in the early history of the Norwich District. 
James Garner's mission to Marshland has been referred to.f In 1833, Brandon reported 
660 members. In 1840, through the labours, in turn, of Messrs. Bellham, Moss, Knock, 

* " Arcady, for Better for Worse," pp. 77-8. f See Vol. ii. p. 222. 



Winkfield, and their colleagues, the membership had risen to 954. But between 
these years Rockland Circuit was made with 472 members, so that the actual 
increase for the seven years was 766. This numerical advance was the more remark- 
able as, during the earlier part of the septennate, persecution had been bitter and the 
poverty of the people extreme. At Thelnetham, Rushford, and Bridgham the societies 
were deprived of their preaching-places. At Tottington, Mr. and Mrs. Cheston (the 
latter the mother of the Rev. R. Church) were turned out of house and home, and 
their goods left on the open green for three days and nights because they " harboured 
the Ranters." Ultimately they found shelter at Thompson, two miles away, and as 

>]'. M< 'KOLAS 
Where the First Opeu-air Service was held, conducted by Mr. J. Kent. 

they opened their house for preaching, their settlement there was the means of 
strengthening the village society.* It was in the face of difficulties such as these 
that the Brandon Circuit extended itself. 

Bury St. Edmund's, Thetford, Watton, and Diss, each now the head of a circuit, are 
all found on the early plans of Brandon. Bury was successfully missioned in 1829 
by G. Appleby and G. Tetley, and formed part of the Brandon Circuit until 1842, when 

* See the Magazine for 1861, p. 232, which also contains the account of the opening of a chapel 
at Thompson hy Messrs. R. Church, O. Jackson, and "W. H. Meadows, very familiar names in 

East Anglia. 

Q 2 


it became a circuit in its own right. Sudbury Circuit has since been formed from Bury. 
Our Church found it no easy matter to get footing in the ancient town of Thetford, 
once the capital of East Anglia, a bishop's seat even before Norwich, and boasting of 
its eight monasteries and twenty churches. The first efforts of our missionaries were 
unsuccessful but, in 1836, John Kent tried it again, preaching in St. Nicholas Street, 
and suffered temporary arrest in consequence. After this, a society which proved 
permanent was established, and a chapel opened in 1839. Under the able superin- 
tendency of G. Tetley the Thetford Branch became an independent circuit in 1859, 
and, to-day, it takes rank as a good country station with some twelve or thirteen 
separate interests. 

Lopham, another old-world place, is on the Brandon Circuit plan of 1834. During 
the last quarter of the eighteenth century Mr. George Wharton, a good specimen of 
the old English yeoman, was resident at North Lopham. He accepted Methodism, 
recently introduced into the village, entertained the preachers, and allowed them the 
use of his kitchen for their services. His son of the same name succeeded to the 
paternal estate and, being a lover of old Methodism and camp meetings, he transferred 
his patronage to the Primitives on their coming into these parts. He granted them the 

use of a shed roofed with faggots as their 
preaching-place. This primitive structure 
had a curious origin. Mr. Wharton was, 
in his way, a musical amateur, and, on his 
relinquishing the Grange Farm in favour 
of his son George, he built the shed to 
serve the purpose of a music-saloon, to 
which he might retire at will and play 
on the bass-viol to his heart's content, 
without disturbing his wife, who did not 
appreciate his musical efforts. The old 
shed, afterwards enlarged and roofed with 

thatch, became known as the "Old Gospel Shop." Subsequently, we are told, 
Mr. George Wharton (the third of that name, we take it) built a chapel for the use 
of the society at Lopham, and also at New Buckenham, Wortham, and East Harling. 
By his will he devised the chapel to his son John, and, by an arrangement with the 
devisees, the Lopham chapel and adjoining schoolroom were, in 1861, made over to the 
Connexion. There is a tablet in the chapel to the memory of " George Wharton, Gent., 
who died Feb. 4, 1837." " Several members of the Wharton family are buried in and 
around the chapel, and in a garden adjoining are the graves of Mr. and Mrs. John Rolfe 
(Lydia Wharton), and Mr. John Bird. The garden is now private property, and 
owned by a descendant of George Wharton."* The fact that Lopham, beginning as 
part of Brandon, was afterwards included in Rockland, and is now in Diss Circuit, 
points to the changes the years have brought. 

Rockland was made a circuit from Brandon during 1833, and in 1834 Robert Key, 

* See article on " The Lopham People," by Mr. W. H. Berry, in the Christian Messenger, 1900, 
pp. 328-9. 


fresh from his triumphs in Mattishall, became its superintendent, and continued such 
for two years. In 1835 the newly-formed circuit reported 710 members, being an 
increase of 323. Rockland, in its turn, missioned Stowmarket, which was made 
a circuit in 1835, with only 95 members. 

In 1837 Robert Key began a mission at Hadleigh, in Suffolk, a place famous in 
ecclesiastical history as the scene of a martyrdom and as the place where the Anglo- 
Catholic movement had its beginning. On a common near the town Key would read 
the inscription : 

"Near the spot where this stone stood, 
Rowland Taylor shed his blood." 

And, only four years before, the meeting had taken place in the rectory parlour of 
Hugh James Rose from which resulted the "Tracts for the Times." The conditions 
under which Mr. Key prosecuted his mission in Suffolk were somewhat different from 
those which had attended his work in Mid-Norfolk. The people seemed more difficult 
to reach harder to impress. There was a good deal of Antinomianism about. Many 
of the people, too, were accustomed to "good" sermonising and plenty of it, and 
would not be put off with anything else. It is not suggested that Mr. Key had no 
message for the people ; only, that their ecclesiastical predilections or doctrinal errors 
were such as made his task more difficult, and drove him to study his message, and 
how he could best urge it home through the resistant coating superinduced by habit 
or prejudice. Still, Mr. Key met with a measure of success, though not on the scale 
to which he had been accustomed. Some of the remarkable displays of Divine grace 
witnessed by him about this time he has duly recorded in his " Gospel among the 
Masses." One of the places missioned was Polstead a veritable "Satan's seat," on 
which a lurid light had recently been cast. A crime perpetrated there was the 
sensation of the day. For a time everybody was talking of the Red Barn and the 
murder of Maria Martin. Robert Key tells us that when he visited Polstead it was 
little better than a den of thieves. "Seventeen houses in the village were unlicensed 
beer-houses ! Barns, malt-houses, shops, and sheep-folds were visited by gangs of armed 
men for the purpose of plunder, and seldom were the county Assizes held without 
some criminals from Polstead being indicted." In this notorious place his laboiirs 
were crowned with marked success. Hadleigh was made a circuit in 1838 with 
150 members. In recent years it has been divided up between Ipswich and Colchester 

We have already seen Wangford, as an offshoot of Yarmouth, attaining circuit 
independence in 1833. It fell to its lot to work in the easternmost part of England, where 
the land bulges out like a bellying sail, although the sea has done its best, or its worst, 
for, a thousand years, to throw back the coast-line, so that Dunwich, once a famous 
city of East Anglia, which fitted out fleets, and through whose brazen gates armies 
passed, has shrunk to a poor village, the mere wreck of the ancient city, though, until 
1832, it returned two members to Parliament. Covehithe, Southwold, and Wrentham, 
as well as historic Dunwich, are found on the early plans of Wangford Circuit. The 
making of Beccles and Bungay Circuit is quite recent. Kelsale, near Saxmundham, 



has had a chequered history. Originally part of Wangford Circuit, it, along with 
Melton and a few other places, formed a distinct circuit for two years 1837-8. 
Then it became the Kelsale Mission of Wangford, and so continued until 1862, when 
it was taken over by the General Missionary Committee, and remained under its care 
until 1881. The year 1862 was noteworthy for a feat in chapel removing. In 1860, 
a site of land was purchased at Melton, in the Kelsale Mission, for the erection of 
a chapel. The site was contiguous to a villa occupied by a barrister. Some few 
months after the completion of the building, the owner of the villa brought an action 
against the trustees for an alleged interference with his light. The trial was heard at 


the Bury Summer Assizes, 1861, and went against the trustees. The animus of the 
Church party was notorious, and it had won the day. At this juncture Mr. H. Collins 
suggested that the chapel should be removed bodily. The suggestion that at first 
seemed so strange was soon taken up seriously. Additional land was bought, and, by 
an ingenious process we do not stay to describe, Mr. Collins and his brother, as 
engineers, effected the removal of the chapel. " A Great Moving Day " was announced, 
and hundreds of people assembled to witness the successful carrying out of the operation. 
Even then the owner of the villa was not satisfied, but threatened another action 
because the chapel had not been removed far enough. Counsel's opinion being taken 
he advised that as the trustees had yet four feet of land intended for a path, this 


should be taken advantage of, and the path made to run by the side of the villa for 
the satisfaction of its occupants. This was done, and the chapel was moved in all 
some twenty feet eight inches without a window-pane being cracked, or the building 
suffering the slightest damage. An illustrated account of this triumph of mechanics 
over bigotry appeared in the " Illustrated London News " of the time. The cost of 
the transaction was but 31 12s. 6d., though there was a heavy bill of legal expenses 
which brought the entire cost up to 800.* This, we are told, was paid off, and a few- 
years ago the trustees took over 50 of the debt of a struggling cause at Shottisham. 

* " To J. H. Tillett, Esq., solicitor (Melton Chapel case), 280. To W. Harland, to Norwich and 
Melton, as per order of Conference, 2 3s." Minutes of Conference, 1862. The view given in 
the text, taken at the time, has been kindly supplied by Mr. Henry Collins, millwright, etc., Melton, 
through Rev. J. H. Geeson. 





HE history of Norwich District would be incomplete were we to omit all 
reference to the fact that for seven years 1828 to 1834 London stood 
on the stations of that District. During part of this time, Sheerness 
and other places in Kent were on the plan of London Circuit, so that 
the Norwich District, before 1842, had stations or missions in Essex, Cambridge, 
Huntingdon, Lincoln (Holbeach), Northampton, Middlesex, Surrey and Kent, besides 
Norfolk and Suffolk, in all some ten counties. We see that this connection between 
London and East Anglian Primitive Methodism was more than a nominal one that it had 
practical consequences when we find John Smith (1) and Robert Key walking all the 
way from Norfolk to London in order to attend the District Meeting of 1833. That 
year the District increase was 1638, an evidence of success which no doubt greatly 
encouraged the delegates. It was during the District Meeting week, while speaking 
at a missionary meeting in Blue Gate Fields Chapel, that R. Key brought down his 
fist with such emphasis on the table as to split it in two, while Hugh Bourne picked 
xip the scattered candles. London's connection with Norwich District had some more 
lasting results ; for, while Norwich District gave such preachers as James Garner (1), 
J. Oscroft, and R. Howchin for the London work, London, in its turn, was the means of 
strengthening that District by giving it such men as W. Wainwright (1) and G. Tetley. 
The latter was one of the early fruits of Leeds Primitive Methodism, became a notable 
figure in the Norwich District, and attained to the Presidency of the Conference of 
1855. If for no other reason than the some-time connection of 
London with Norwich District, we have reached a convenient 
point for setting forth how Primitive Methodism was introduced 
into London and how, in spite of great difficulties, it rooted itself 
there and grew. But there is a further reason. The narrative 
now called for is historically knitted to what has already been 
related, and to what yet remains to be told. London has been 
reached from the north and the east. Leeds and Hull and, after 
Norwich District, Hull once more, have had a hand in the develop- 
ment of our Church-life in the metropolis. While this has been 
w. WAINWKIGHT. gi ri g on n ne side of the island, Tunstall District has been 
consolidating itself, and preparing for the future Manchester, 
West Midland, Liverpool, and Shrewsbury Districts. It has also, by its Western and other 


missions, been making its way down the Severn Valley and the Thames Basin. On 
this side, the outstanding fact is the creation of the Brinkworth 
District from Tunstall, just as, on the East, the outstanding fact 
was the creation of Norwich District out of Nottingham. The 
missionaries of Brinkworth will not be found labouring in London 
itself, but they will be found labouring very near to it in Berk- 
shire, Buckinghamshire, and in the home-county of Hertfordshire. 
Looking forward a few years, we shall see how, when in 1853 
the composite London District is to be formed, Brinkworth- District 
becomes one of the largest contributors, surrendering the im- 
portant circuits of Reading, High Wycombe, and Luton, as well 
GEO. TETLEY. as Maidenhead, towards the formation of the new District. 

In this transitional chapter we confine ourselves to the beginnings of Primitive 

Methodism in London. 


Hugh Bourne and James Crawfoot spent a fortnight in London in the autumn 
of 1810. Was this merely a pleasure-excursion, or an evangelistic mission? If only 
the former, then it belongs to the biography of Hugh Bourne rather than to this 
History. But it is clear, from the very first mention of the project in his Journal, 
and from subsequent references to the visit, that Hugh Bourne himself regarded it as 
a "religious excursion," as likely to afford him the opportunity of trying his methods 
of evangelism in a new and tempting field. While going in and out amongst the 
Independent Methodists at Stockton Heath, W. Clowes, he says, " Informed me that 
John Shegog [a Staffordshire man resident in London] wanted me to go to London, 
and that there seemed to be a call, and that my way was open there. This kept me 
awake a good while ; but I left it to the Lord, and it seemed as if the Lord directed 
me to go to London. Lord, Thy will be done." Arrived in London, Hugh Bourne 
and his companion did not entirely neglect seeing the sights. They saw the king's 
palace, and climbed nearly to the top of St. Paul's, " and had views of the city. It 
is wonderful," adds H. B. ; " but, Lord, what shall be done for the multitudes of 
the inhabitants? Lord, have pity on them." Lancaster's Free School was visited, 
and the notorious Joanna Southcote, whom H. B. " thought was in witchcraft." But 
still their main pre-occupation was evangelism. Each preached in the open-air in 
Portland Street and Kentish Town. They held various cottage-meetings, at which 
converts were won. Much space is given in the Journal to the astonishing cure, 
through the prayers and faith of James Crawfoot, of Anne Chapman, a pious young 
woman and visionist, who, after being seven months in hospital, was dismissed as 
incurable. What were the results of this short visit ? Under date of October 23rd, 1810, 
Hugh Bourne writes in his Journal : 

"Clowes has received a letter from Mr. Shegog, of London, stating that 
Anne Chapman was at the chapel last Tuesday, and was enabled to stand up 
and join in the singing, to the astonishment of the congregation ; and that her 


miraculous restoration from what appeared to be the bed of death has raised 
an inquiry in many as to the deep things of God. He says they greatly desire 
to see us again ; and that the converts the Lord gave old James and me are going 
on well, especially sister Chapman and two brethren. He also says that he is 
endeavouring to fan the flame which the Lord enabled us to kindle in London." 

This record explains why, in the autumn of 1811, we find John Benton labouring in 
London. If lie shrank from entering Leicester, we can readily understand why he 
should feel out of his element in London, and soon return to more congenial spheres 
of labour. Still, Benton met with considerable success, as Hugh Bourne's Journal 
clearly shows. In proof, we have such entries as these: "Sept. 16th. I received a 
letter from Mr. Shegog, of London, informing me that John Benton had great and 
rapid success there." And, a little later: "They have joined about forty five since 
John Benton went to London." Then in October, 1811, some four months after the 
new denomination had been formed by the coming together of the Clowesites and 
Camp Meeting Methodists, we find Hugh Bourne including High Wycombe and London 
amongst the societies claimed by the denomination which, in February, 1812, was to 
take the name of Primitive Methodists. But the society in London was too far a\vay 
to benefit by efficient oversight. Thus cut off and exposed to all the erosive influences of 
London life, such an isolated society would be likely soon to fall to pieces and disappear. 
It is, therefore, all the more surprising to find Hugh Bourne, seven years after, referring 
to the " London Primitive Methodists," and noting that one of these W. Jefferson, has 
been selected to preach the opening sermons at Dead Lane Chapel, Loughboroiigh, and 
that he is one of the Loughborough Circuit preachers for 1821.* These London 
Primitive Methodists of 1818 are one of the puzzles of our early history. How shall 
we account for them ? Were they, after all, the representatives of the four classes 
formed by Benton in 1811, or had a new section of religionists in the meantime 
sprung into existence and assumed the name Primitive Methodists, while remaining 
unattached to the Staffordshire movement 1 ? No answer to these questions is as yet 
forthcoming. That there were Primitive Methodists in London in 1818 seems to be 
indisputable ; that none could be found in December, 1822, is equally indisputable. 
This will be clear from the subsequent narrative, which also forces on us the reflection 
that, in the earlier stages of the London Mission, Divine Providence again and again 
very considerately made up for the deficiencies of human providence. 


Leeds Circuit, finding itself in the possession of a respectable balance, resolved to 
expend it in starting a distant mission. But where '{ Sunderland, it is said, was fixed 
upon as the centre of the intended mission, and Paul Sugden was instructed to make his 
way there. But Sunderland was now within the area of Hull's new Northern Mission, so 
the objective of the prospective mission was changed to London. Sugden was accompanied 
by a zealous unpaid volunteer named W. Watson. When the two alighted (December, 1822) 

* See Vol. i. p. 316. 



from their coach in the yard of the "Swan with Two Necks," in Lad Lane (now 
Gresham Street), they were the joint possessors of one shilling, which soon passed 
into the pocket of the coachman who had touched his hat for the accustomed gratuity. 
When the guard also approached and touched his hat, they told him frankly they were 
penniless, and what had brought them to the great city. The guard was a kind-hearted 
Christian man, who knew guilelessness from its subtle counterfeit. He took the 
missionaries home with him, and not only gave them breakfast, but bought a hymn- 
book of them so that their next meal might be assured. The lot of the missionaries 
was no enviable one. They were practically stranded in the biggest city in the world, 


with no supporters, and no material base or supplies for their work. Yet, once 
more, Providence befriended them. If there were no Primitive Methodists in 
London there were some Bible Christians who, as usual, showed a kindly spirit 
By these the two were engaged as temporary supplies, P. Sugden going into Kent, 
while W. Watson remained in London. One day the latter, while preaching, let 
a warm-hearted allusion to the fact that he was a Primitive Methodist escape him. 
This disclosure led to the discovery of a co-religionist in the congregation. They 
came together, with the result that next day a small chapel in Cooper's Gardens, 
near Shoreditch Church, was taken. Cooper's Gardens, euphemistically so called, 
was a narrow thoroughfare leading off Hackney Road, at a point about a hundred 



yards from Shoreditch Church, where Hackney Road begins. Access to this thorough- 
fare was gained through a low, flat archway, or rather, through a door-shaped entry ; 
then, passing some shabby cottages, you had the chapel on your right. In those day& 
the locality did not improve in looks as you went further on, nor was its reputation 
of the best ; for Nova Scotia Gardens, where the notorious murderers Bishop and 
Williams had lived, were not far away. As for the chapel, well may Mr. Yarrow call 
it "one of the quaintest of chapels."* Eighty years ago there were hidden away 
in odd nooks and corners of London many such old conventicles. They recalled the 
days when Dissenters thought it best to keep their places of worship out of sight as 
much as possible. Even now, you may occasionally stumble upon a building given up 
to the most secular uses which yet shows something of the old conventicle look. But 


the number of such buildings is becoming smaller every year. Cooper's Gardens Chapel 
was a small, almost square building, being about twenty feet each way. Small 
though it was it boasted three galleries, each reached by a separate flight of stairs. 
The pulpit was stuck agains-t the left or eastern wall. The chandelier was a hoop 
suspended by ropes from the ceiling, with tin sconces affixed, and tallow candles were 
the illuminants. No picture of Cooper's Gardens first chapel is now procurable ; hence 
we have been the more particular to give some idea of its situation and appearance, 
because this was our first Connexional base and centre in the metropolis. Three generations 
of chapels stood on this site. Cooper's Gardens first chapel lasted until 1835, then came 
the second of the name, and in 1852 the third. For fifty-three years 1822 to 1875 

* " The History of Primitive Methodism in London." By William H. Yarrow. 1876. 



this spot in Bethnal Green was familiar and dear to Primitive Methodists, the home 
of a strong and aggressive society, and the birthplace of many souls. 

After Cooper's Gardens Chapel was taken, P. Sugden was called in from Kent, 
and J. Coulson walked from Leeds to supply the place of W. Watson. He walked, 
because the " cause " could not afford to pay for an inside seat in the coach, and it was 
too cold to ride on the outside. He entered London late in January, 1823, with three 
shillings in his pocket, and no very clear idea as to the direction he should take to 
find chapel or colleague. He had a hazy notion that Cooper's Gardens was somewhere 
near Shoreditch Church, and so, as he made his way along Old Street, he kept anxiety 
at bay by lifting up his heart to God and saying, " Lord, it would be a little thing for 
Thee to let me meet with Paul Sugden." This child-like confidence was not misplaced. 


The colleagues did meet, and that "right early"; for, as Coulson a little later passed 
along a certain street, he was seen by P. Sugden, who happened to be in a shop at the 
time. To run out and welcome his colleague was the work of a moment. We may 
call it a remarkable coincidence, but the men more directly concerned saw the hand 
of God in the rencontre. 

On yet another winter's day, in January, 1824, W. Clowes took charge of the London 
Mission, and remained in charge until September, 1825. His coming opened a new 
chapter in the history of London Primitive Methodism, the first chapter having ended 
disappointingly. During the year 1823, the few and feeble societies had been formed 
and prematurely formed, one cannot but think into a circuit. Local difficulties led 
to a still further and most unwise division of the circuit into East and West, with 
the result that might have been anticipated. The societies soon found themselves 


in difficulties, and an appeal was made to Hull Circuit to save them from utter wreck. 
The appointment of Clowes at this crisis was a wise step. Never, perhaps, during the 
course of his active ministry did he give more manifest proofs of the possession of 
administrative ability, as well as of evangelistic aptitudes, than during his twenty 
months labours in London. He enforced discipline ; curtailed expense wherever 
possible ; reunited the divided East and West, and set himself to restore the societies 
to solvency. In effecting this last he was greatly indebted to Mrs. Gardiner, one of 
those " honourable women " of -whom there have been " not a few " in the history 
of our London churches. Mrs. Gardiner is said to have been led to identify herself 
with our cause in London through the preaching of J. Coulson. She had both the 
means and the will to further the work of God. The poorly paid, and often insufficiently 
fed pioneer preachers, were welcomed to her table and followed by her thoughtful 
kindness. At this juncture, W. Clowes appealed to Mrs. Gardiner, who at once lent 
him a hundred pounds on his note of hand. With this sum he was enabled to pay 
off outstanding bills, and relieve the financial pressure on the societies. As for the 
promissory-note, it was, not long after, taken out of the escritoire and put into the 
fire as a burnt-offering to the Lord. 

Clowes found, as many both before and since his time have found, that London 
evangelism has its own special difficulties, making heavy demands on faith and patience. 
Not here, least of all, can the outworks of evil be carried at a rush, but only by the 
slow process of sapping and mining. Clowes had a sanguine temperament, and had 
come to London fresh from revivals on a large scale, and so his Journal reveals a certain 
disappointment with what seemed to be, in comparison, the meagre results of his 
labours. Now he writes : " London is London still, careless, trifling, gay, and hardened 
through the deceitfulness of sin." And again : " Often have T preached within and 
without the room [in Snow Fields, in the Borough], and laboured with all the powers 
of my body and soul ; but the pride, levity, and corruption of London appeared to be 
unassailable ; the powers of hell reigned fearfully triumphant, the pall of midnight 
darkness rested upon thousands of all orders of society. Oh, for God's mighty arm 
to be outstretched, to shake the mighty Babylon to its centre ! " 

Any one who reads the accounts Clowes has given in his Journal of some of his 
experiences as an open-air evangelist in London, will cease to wonder that he uses 
strong language in writing of its moral condition, as he found it in 1824. Let the 
reader take a brief summary of one or two of the incidents he gives. 

As he passes through Clare Market his soul is stirred within him as he sees the 
awful profanation of the Lord's Day. He takes his stand among the people and 
beseeches them to turn from their evil ways and seek the Lord. The next Sabbath, 
true to his promise, he is in Clare Market again. He begins to sing, but is stopped 
by a policeman and forbidden to disturb the market-people. When asked for his 
authority, the officer pulls out his truncheon, and says : " This is my authority." An 
open window is offered him, and from that vantage-ground Clowes " pours the thunders 
of the law upon the rebels against God and the King." From Clare Market he goes 
down to Westminster, and stands up again in the open-air. "The Philistines," says 
he, " were again upon me ; the abandoned of God and man, like incarnate devils 


raged and howled around ; however, I cried to the infuriated multitude to repent and 
helieve the Gospel, and, contrary to my expectation, I finished my address, and retired 
without suffering any injury." We may recall another scene, also enacted in Royal 
Westminster. While Clowes is leading a camp-meeting, three men, whom a publican 
had primed with liquor and dressed up with horns and wings and tails, execute a sort 
of devil's dance on the camp-ground. They yell and rush about amongst the people. 
The women scream, and for a time the meeting is thrown into confusion. But the 
preachers do not flinch, and their followers soon rally to their support. Presently, two 
of the masqueraders slink away, while the third and principal one a gigantic and 
fearsome figure to look upon is surrounded, and sung and prayed over, till he has 
no spirit left in him. There is something grotesque about this incident, but its sequel 
was tragic enough ; for, in this case, as in a similar one that took place at Walworth, 
retribution speedily overtook the persecuting buffoons. The ringleader of the 
Westminster trio was shortly after convicted of pocket-picking and hanged at 
Newgate, whilst his underlings were transported to Botany Bay for house-breaking. 

Clowes now left London for his mission in Cornwall. He had worked hard during 
his twenty months of service, along with such colleagues as J. Hervey, G. Tetley, 
and especially John Nelson, who, like himself, had been extraordinarily successful in 
the North ; and yet, in September, 1825, the combined membership of the London 
societies was but 170. Well might he sorrowfully write : "I have continued to labour 
in conjunction Avith my friends in London day and night for the salvation of sinners, 
but the chariot rolled on slowly and heavily." Still the chariot did roll on ; London 
continued to make some little progress, so that in 1826 the societies were formed into 
an independent circuit which, for that and the next year, stood on the stations of the 
Hull District. Then, as we have seen, from 1828 to 1834, London formed an integral 
part of the Norwich District and then disappears, to emerge in 1842 as a branch of 
Hull. A second crisis had occurred, making the friendly intervention of Hull Circuit 
indispensable. The crisis was mainly of a financial character, as the following extract 
from the Journal of W. Clowes will show : 

"On February the 27th [1835] I left Hull for London, in order to take the 
broken-down circuit of the latter place once more under the wing of Hull Circuit- 
The preachers stationed in London were brothers Oscroft, Coulson, and Bland, and 
the number of members was 294. On the Sabbath after my arrival I preached 
at Blue Gate Fields ; and on the Monday, I had to advance, on the part of Hull 
Circuit, 16 to pay the preachers' deficient salaries. The chief of the circuit was 
in a state of decay, the chapel being involved and most of the places in a shattered 
condition. After preaching several times, and arranging for the taking of the 
circuit, I returned to Hull to communicate the result of my mission to our March 
Quarterly Meeting for 1835." 

John Flesher was sent to London in 1835 to save the situation, just as he had been 
sent to Edinburgh in 1830 for the like purpose It was a magnanimous act on the 
part of Hull Circuit to give up its ablest minister at this crisis; nor was this 
magnanimity a merely transient impulse, but rather a well-defined policy, dictated 
by a consideration of what was best for the Connexion. For a series of years some 


of the best preachers on its staff were drafted to the London work. The affairs of 
Blue Gate Fields Chapel formed the crux of the difficulty Flesher was called at once 
to face. Its history can soon be told. As early as 1825 we find a society worshipping 
in New Gravel Lane, in Shadwell. The preaching-room, which was a loft over a stable, 
was a strange place for one of the best and most well-to-do of the London societies to 
forgather in ; for, over and above the disadvantage of its location, the odour of the 
stable was often unpleasantly assertive, and the sound of the chaff-cutters at work 
below jarred on the sensibilities of the worshippers. Yet, for some years, this upper 
room was the home of a vigorous society, and a Bethel ashore to zealous Primitive 
Methodists who sailed from North-Eastern ports. In 1829, James Garner (1) began his 
two years' superintendency, marked by peace and some progress. In 1830, the member- 
ship of Cooper's Gardens had risen to 76 and that of Shadwell to 64. When, next 
year, John Oscroft succeeded to J. Garner, it was felt the time had fully come to give 
the Shadwell society more eligible headquarters, and, in June, 1832, Blue Gate Fields 
Chapel was opened. The entire cost of the undertaking was 1300, a sum out of all 
proportion to the financial strength of the society. What follows is the old familiar 
story a crushing, dispiriting debt, accumulating arrears of interest, angry creditors 
becoming vindictive. From the perusal of private letters of the time and the carefully 
written minutes of the Trustees' Meetings, we see John Flesher here and there in the 
Connexion preaching and making collections on behalf of Shadwell Chapel, while, in 
London, his colleagues were begging almost from door to door for the same object. 
Thomas Watson, the popular boy-preacher, had worn out three suits of clothes with 
the severity of this work ; and some of Thomas Katcliffe's begging reminiscences may 
be read in Mr. Yarrow's book.* But, in spite of all that could be done, Blue Gate 
Fields Chapel had, in the end, to be sacrificed. All, however, was not lost. Much 
had been gained. Connexional honour was saved; the just demands of creditors were 
satisfied; and the society, poor but honest, chastened, and wiser for the experience 
of the past, could face the future with hope. Mr. Yarrow is careful to inform us 
that when, in 1837, Blue Gate Fields Chapel was sold for 500, the Connexion did 
not own a shillings worth of property in London. True, Cooper's Gardens second 
chapel had taken the place of the dilapidated structure already described. But this, 
for the time being, was the private property of John Friskin, one of the most 
prominent and active officials of the early days. Seeing clearly what was needed, he 
had bought the old building and some of the adjoining property, and built a chapel 
which was, in every way, an improvement on the old. This was let to the society at 
a moderate rental, and subsequently bought on easy terms. From this it will be seen 
how comparatively recent is the material advance our Church has made in the 
metropolis, and how considerable and creditable to all concerned that advance has 
been. In 1837 the membership was 286, and the property owned nil. In 1847 the 
membership was 700, and the value of the three Connexional chapels then owned 

* Yarrow's " History," pp. 53 215. Our authority for the wear and tear of the three suits of 
clothes is the following resolution of the Trustees' Meeting : " That the 4 entered in the Account 
Book as a present to Thomas Watson while begging, be granted ; as he wore out three suits of 
clothes while begging." 



was .2500. Xow, in 1904, there are 9827 members, 115 chapels, and the value of 
the Church property is 284, 308. 

After the loss of Blue Gate Fields Chapel the society found a temporary lodgment 
in Ratcliffe Highway, worshipping in a room that could only be reached by an almost 
perpendicular ladder. Interesting is this resolution in the old Minute Book, written 
August 9th, 1838 : "That we approve of Brother Flesher's having purchased the lease 
of a house and ground on which to build a chapel, in Crane Yard, Sutton Street, 
Commercial Road." Then follow other resolutions which show that much was expected 
of Brother Flesher. He was to " purchase bricks, timber, and other requisites for the 
building of the chapel " ; to superintend the erection " in all its branches," and borrow 
the money necessary to complete the building. If tradition be trustworthy, Mr. Flesher 

did even more than was expected of him, 
for occasionally he might have been seen 
dressed as a navvy, wheeling barrows of 
earth for the foundation. On Tuesday, 
August 14th, 1838, the sermon in con- 
nection with the foundation-stone laying was 
preached by John Stamp, who, it will be 
remembered, was at this time on London's 
Sheerness Mission, which next year obtained 
circuit independence. 1835-7 was the 
turning-point of our Connexional fortunes 
in London. From the time John Flesher 
took the helm of the labouring ship it 
righted itself and made headway. The story 
of the passing of the crisis, as revealed in 
these old letters and documents, is of more 
than local interest. It suggests that there 
was a side to the ministry and character of 
John Flesher that we have scarcely seen the 
importance of. We have thought of him 
as the Chrysostom of the Connexion, "one 
of England's untitled noblemen," the accom- 
plished editor, the hymnist; but it gives 
us a sort of shock to see him absorbed in 
such salvage work as fell to his lot] in Edinburgh and London. Could the Connexion 
find no more fitting work than this for John Flesher to do 1 It may tend to allay what 
we regard as our justifiable heat to learn that the real John Flesher was essentially 
a man of affairs a man big enough for large affairs, and not too big to find delight 
in small details. Had he not, unfortunately, destroyed his papers, abundant evidence 
would have remained to make this fact one of the commonplaces of our history. 
But it is not too late to form a just estimate of what he did for the Connexion ; for, 
in recent years, from various quarters, letters and documents have come to hand which 
conclusively prove that, from 1830 to 1850, John Flesher was one of the busiest 





and most influential men in our Church-life. He had an intimate knowledge of 
connexional affairs, and held the threads of many of them in his hand. He was the 
confidant of William Clowes, W. Garner, W. Sanderson, T. Holliday, and other men 
of like age and standing, and he was looked up to by the younger men who were 
afterwards to have the guidance of affairs. In his person were represented the ideals 
and strivings of a wider, more liberal connexionalism. In short, we make bold to say, 
that John Flesher was the man of the transition period which culminated in 1843, 
but which had begun ten years before. " When any difficulty arose he was sent for. 
Often John would leave me after the Quarterly Meeting, and I did not see much more 


of him until the next." So said his faithful, self-sacrificing wife. On his retirement, 
he could claim that, " whilst it was never my policy to start divisions and disturbances, 
it was often my work to have to allay them when raging, and to deprive them, to 
a certain extent, of the power of a resurrection."* As by common consent, when the 
denomination or its ministers was defamed in the public press, the task of vindication 
was left to John Flesher. So, to name but one instance out of many, he had to defend 
the Connexion against misrepresentation in what it may suffice to call the Stamp Affair, 
and no little obloquy did he incur by so doing. To him, more than to any other single 
man, was due the epoch-making events of the transference of the Book-Room from 

* Quoted from J. Flesher's Letter of Application for Superannuation, 1852. 




Bemersley to London, and the establishment of the General Missionary Committee. 
To him, also, was owing the improvement of our serials, by giving them a wider out- 
look and a more literary form. The characteristics of the man his lawyer-like mind, 
and his fond, almost finical handling of details, reveal themselves in his very original 
Consolidation of the Minutes (published 1850). Because he had done many things 
so well, it was thought he was just the man to prepare the Hymn-Book that was 
wanted ; and here he was misjudged. But one failure leaves untouched the essential 
greatness of the man and the value of the work he did. The policy John Flesher had 
worked for, and which he lived to initiate, will come under our notice again, but we 
may briefly set down here the main facts in his personal history which yet remain to 
be told. Even when, in 1842, he entered upon his editorial duties, there were already 

premonitions of a physical breakdown. 
The throat-trouble had begun to show 
itself which, with its complications, was 
to disqualify him for all public work. 
His affliction deepened so that, in 1852, 
he sought superannuation. He retired 
to Scarborough, afterwards to Easing- 
wold, then to Harrogate; and finally, 
1 laving sequestered himself at Forest 
Moor House, between Knaresborough 
and Harrogate, he passed away, beloved 
and revered, July 16th, 1874, and his 
remains were laid in the Harrogate 
Cemetery. It is a coincidence that 
John Flesher and W. Sanderson should 
both have been superannuated and 
have died in the same year; yet more 
striking, that our two most eloquent 
preachers of the early period should both 
have been smitten by disease in such a 
way as " made their music mute." 

The plan of the London Mission for 
1847 is now before us. When this plan 
was printed Primitive Methodism had 
been introduced into the metropolis 
just a quarter of a century. The plan in question shows some eighteen preaching-stations, 
including places as far removed from each other as Brentford and Acton on the west, 
and Woolwich on the south-east. Of the three Connexional chapels on the Mission 
Cooper's Gardens, Sutton Street, and Grove Mews, the precursor of Seymour Place, 
Marylebone Cooper's Gardens stands first in order, as it was first in numerical strength, 
having a membership of 260, while Sutton Street comes next with 211. Both before 
and after 1847, Cooper's Gardens enjoyed considerable prosperity. Joel Hodgson, who 
laboured in London about this time, speaks of it as a veritable "converting furnace." 




The chapel was often too small to hold even the members who sought to attend, so 
that an overflow congregation was held in the schoolroom. To supply the additional 
accommodation so urgently needed, the third Cooper's Gardens Chapel was opened 
in 1852. The same year Parkinson Milson began his two years' memorable ministry 
in London. At the close of a hard Sunday's labour in connection with a series of 
Protracted Meetings, when "fourteen persons found salvation," he notes in his diary: 
" There are some blessed and mighty local brethren here." The " Breakfast Meeting," 
which stands at the bottom of this plan of 1847, was a notable institution of Cooper's 
Gardens, and one, so far as our knowledge extends, unique in the Connexion. The 
local preachers on duty as most of them usually were on the Sunday assembled at 
eight o'clock, and after breakfasting together and discussing some topic or other 
separated to go, two and two, to their various and often distant appointments. 

Caere Street, Broadway, Westminster, is the third place on the plan. Ever since 
the days of Clowes' mission we had been at work somewhere or other in this district, 
where Wesleyan Methodism has at last got a splendid denominational centre. We say, 
" somewhere or other in Westminster," for a glance over the plans for successive years 
will show that this west-end society had flitted from street to street and room to room 
in an extraordinary manner. For more than half a century we clung tenaciously to 
Westminster, but were compelled at last to abandon it ; and now, alas ! the Connexion 
has no footing in this wide and densely-populated district. 

A word must be written of Elim Chapel, Fetter Lane, which stands on the plan 
after Sophia Street, Poplar. For some time services had been held in various places 
in the centre of London, viz., Gee Street, Whitecross Street, Onslow Street, then in 
Castle Street Chapel, Clerkenwell. When, in order to carry out city improvements, 
the chapel in Castle Street was scheduled for demolition, the society acquired 
a disused Baptist chapel in Fetter Lane, off Holborn. This was " Elim " Chapel, 
which in its day had had some notable ministers. At the time of its acquisition 
1845, the idea seems to have been entertained of subsequently making this very 
centrally-situated building connexional property, but, in the end, this was not deemed 
advisable, and the chapel was vacated in the 'Seventies, some 
little time before the expiry of the lease. 

In this same year, 1847, George Austin, fresh from his 
experiences of the Irish Famine, began his lirst ministerial 
term of service in London, which extended to six years. His 
coming was signalised by the formation of some of the western 
societies Brentford, Hammersmith, etc. into a mission, taken 
charge of by the General Missionary Committee ; while the rest 
of the societies were formed into the London Circuit. When, 
in 1853, the London District was created, the three chapels we 
, have described Cooper's Gardens, Elim, and Sutton Street, be- 
came the heads of the three London Circuits called, respectively, 
London First, Second, and Third. 

Further developments of our London Circuits we do not follow at present. It only- 
remains that mention be made of some of those who, for one reason or other, have 




special claim to remembrance. John Friskin, though not a local preacher, was un- 
questionably the best-known London layman of the first period. J. Booth, whose 
name heads the list of local preachers on the plan of. 1834, came from Derbyshire in 
1826. What kind of man he was may be inferred from a sentence in one of his letters 
to his mother : " I have worn my coat longer than is respectable 
but I must help the cause." It was a loss to London Primitive 
Methodism when, in 1848, he emigrated to the United States; 
but he at once joined our Church in Brooklyn, and served its 
interests many years. Jane Phelps, of Shadwell, whose name 
stands next to John Booth's, was, from 1839 to 1842, a 
travelling preacher in the Hull District. Mrs. Maynard and 
Mrs. Jane Gordon were also notable women of the early days. 
Ever since the former was converted under the wooden chandelier 
of Cooper's Gardens in 1827, Maynard has been a name familiar 
to our London societies. Her eldest son, Thomas Maynard, was 
a useful local preacher until he, too, in 1849, emigrated to the United States, and 
united with the Brooklyn church. Mr. C. R. Maynard, of the Stoke Newington 
Circuit, is the present-day representative of the old name. 

When last we saw Mrs. Gordon it was at Filey.* She came to London in 1839, 
and was closely associated with Sutton Street until her death in 1869. Though 
a class-leader and an occasional preacher, she is best remembered as the champion 
Missionary Collector. From the Missionary Eeports of a long series of years, any one 
who cares may ascertain the gross sum she collected for missionary purposes ; but who 
shall tell the miles she walked, or the amount of physical labour she expended? 
Sometimes the canvasser or collector is the less respected the more he is known; but 
not so Mrs. Gordon. City magnates did not count her annual visit an unwelcome 
intrusion. She had none of the , ways of the importunate beggar ; rather, there was 
that about her which suggested she was on some high mission it would be an honour 
to have anything to do with. Attired in old Methodist fashion, 
and with a Christian calmness and dignity all her own, she was 
an impressive figure as she went about the disinterested work 
which more and more became her chief business. 

The honour of starting the first Primitive Methodist Sunday- 
School in London belongs to John Heaps a youth in his teens. 
The school was begun in Baker's Rents, in Hackney Road, in 1832, 
and carried on there until accommodation was provided for it in 
Cooper's Gardens in 1835. When the young man had seen this 
school established, it is said he set his heart upon doing the 
same thing for Westminster, and that, to accomplish this, he cheer- 
fully walked Sunday by Sunday from Hackney to Westminster, 
and back again. The life of this young Christian endeavourer was, alas ! very brief, 
but he did good sowing. John Phillips, a watchman at St. Katharine's Docks, in 


* Vol. ii. p. 106. 


conjunction with F. Salter, began a Sunday School in the vestry of Blue Gate Fields 
Chapel in November, 1832. Phillips was a diligent visitor of the sick, especially of 
the victims of cholera and fever. He died in 1857. 

The portrait of Mr. James Wood, given in the text, links us with the past; for, as 
a youth, he joined the Cooper's Gardens society as far back as 
1839. He was soon put on the plan and was a frequent fellow- 
labourer in mission-work with John Wilson, who came out of 
Staffordshire in 1837. Wilson was not easily daunted, or else 
he would not, after having for two Sundays sought in vain for 
the Primitive Methodists about Covent Gardens (the address his 
minister had given him), have persevered in his search till he had 
ferreted them out in Cooper's Gardens. No doubt it was the zeal 
and aptitude displayed by John Wilson during the years he was 
in London that led to his designation, in the Minutes of 1873, 
as " Lay Missionary," working under the direction of the General 
Missionary Committee. James Wood who, as we have said, was 

frequently his comrade, has been equally at home in the pulpit or the business 
meeting, at the street-corner, or taking part in the discussions of the Sunday morning 
breakfast meetings. He represents the history of our Church in the metropolis for 
the last sixty years; for he still survives, and although he has lost his sight and his 
old-time vigour, he has not lost his interest in all that pertains to the Church of his 
early choice. 

The claims of Thomas Church and W. H. Yarrow to special recognition chiefly rest 
on what they did in the way of authorship. Edward Church, the father of the 
first-named, was one of the fruits of London street-missioning. A back-slidden 
Methodist official, he was reclaimed as the result of an open-air service, held near 
Whitecross Street prison, by John Oscroft in 1831. He at once joined the Cooper's 
Gardens society, though he afterwards identified himself wich Elim. His son, Thomas, 
received his first ticket of membership in 1841, and though, in his later years, he 
was unknown to our churches, yet for a quarter of a century he was a prominent 
figure, and both by voice and pen did his best to further the interests of Primitive 
Methodism. He wielded a " versatile and subtle pen," and as- he took part in most 
of the denominational movements and controversies of his time, he came in for a full 
share of the hard knocks that paper controversialists usually get.* When the much 
needed Primitive Methodist Bibliography comes to be prepared, it will be seen that 

* " Versatile and subtle pen," are T. Bateman's words, occurring in a caustic letter which 
appeared in the Wesleyan Times of August 29th, 1866. On the publication of the Conference 
Minutes, a lively discussion arose on the Conference Address, prepared by Rev. W. (afterwards Dr.) 
Antliff. In this discussion Messrs. Bateman and Church were on opposite sides. T. Church had 
signed himself "A General Committeeman," whereupon he is exhorted "to calmness and propriety 
of speech and writing, and a manifestation of all the qualifications, mental and spiritual, which are 
expected to adorn the character and conduct of every member of the Primitive Methodist General 
Committee." Seven distinct publications of Thomas Church are known to us, the most important 
of which bear the titles, " Popular Sketches of Primitive Methodism : being a Link in the Chain 
of Ecclesiastical History" (1850), 351 pp.; and "A History of the Primitive Methodists." 






Thomas Church was about the first, and certainly the most prolific, of our lay authors, 
and he must have an early place amongst those who have attempted to write the general 
History of our Church. Nor should it be forgotten that he was the projector of the 
first newspaper that has borne the denominational name " The Primitive Methodist 

Mr. Yarrow was a man of more sober and more reliable type an excellent preacher, 
and one of the founders in 1850 of Philip Street, Hoxton. The esteem in which lie 
was held, and his repute as a preacher, led to his being invited to become the minister 
of the Primitive Methodist Church of Shenandoah, U. S. A. The invitation was 
accepted, and he sailed in 1876, but not before he had prepared for the press his well- 
known and valuable " History of Primitive 
Methodism in London" a book which it 
would be well if some competent hand 
would bring down to the present time 
and re-issue. 

No pretence is here made that we have 
mentioned all those to whom it was chiefly 
owing that the London Mission had, by 
1853, become three circuits. By no means. 
Oiher names of early workers might easily 
be recalled who each contributed his quota 
towards the common result such names as 
Hawksworth, Chapman, Beswick, Garrud, 
Hensey, Hurcomb, Martin, Kemp, Cranson, 
and Wesson. But what has been said must 
suffice for the present ; only, as showing 
that 1853 was but the starting-point of 
fresh developments, we give the portrait 
of Peter Thompson, a Primitive Methodist 
navvy from Witney, who that year missioned 
Canning Town. It is interesting to note 
that C. G. Honor, who entered the ministry 
in 1854, was one of the small band of 
missioners, and that, after experiencing some 
rough handling by the mob, Peter and he 
were marched off to Poplar Police Station. John Rackham, converted at Cooper's 
Gardens in 1842, had then already entered the ministry; and John Wenn, a local 
preacher on the station, began his honourable course by becoming, in 1853, the additionnl 
preacher on the newly-formed London Third station. 

We shall have to return to glance at the later and, it may be added, the creditable 
advance of our Church in London, especially as regards the multiplication of chapels. 
In the meantime, the page of views here given as an instalment will, in part, prepare 
us to recognise how great has been the material advance made in recent years. 






have already glanced at the "origins" and subsequent development (as far 
as 1842) of the circuits comprised in the Manchester District that was 
formed in 1827. One circuit only, then standing on the stations of that 
District, has been reserved for notice at this point Liverpool. It is due 
to a city which by its geographical situation .and national importance was, we may 
say, predestined to become, and actually has become, the head of a District, that we 
should present what little can be gleaned respecting the beginnings of our Church 
within its wide area beginnings small and feeble at first, but which have now happily 
attained goodly dimensions. We have just told the story of the early struggles of 
Primitive Methodism to gain a footing in London the. most populous city of the 
world : it does not seem unfitting now, therefore, that we should do the same for the 
second largest city of England, more especially as the history of our Church in both 
cities presents certain points of analogy. Each was visited by a founder and leading 
missionary, before a cause was permanently established. In both, the cause was 
introduced about the same time, and, still more noteworthy, both have made up by 
their later development for the comparative slowness of their growth in the early 
period. We have already tracked the course of our Connexional aggressive move- 
ment from Yorkshire and the Humber till, by way of the Eastern Counties, it converged 
on the metropolis. It now remains, in some succeeding chapters, to show how a 
similar process went on in the West ; how from the Mersey and Dee and Severn our 
missionaries at last reached what we know as the home-counties, and the very suburbs 
of London. As John Smith (1), a Burland man, became, in Thomas Bateman's 
phrase, the "bishop of Norfolk," and found his way to Blue Gate Fields, in attending 
a Norwich District Meeting ; so John Ride, whom Burland sent to mission Liverpool, 
became the Apostle of Wiltshire, and lived to become the successful superintendent 
of Cooper's Gardens. The movement rovinds itself off to completeness. 

Besides Liverpool, other contiguous places, which were early reached by our Church, 
and have had some interesting passages in their history, may be shortly glanced 
at. As circuits attached to Liverpool District they may be of late origin, but their 
beginnings carry us back almost to the beginnings of the Connexion. Of these 
Ellesmere Port and Buckley may be taken as examples. 


Clowes' clear ringing voice was heard preaching the Gospel in the streets of Liverpool 
as early as 1812. He was on a visit at the time, just as he was on a visit to Newcastle 
when he preached there, and also in North Shields, in the autumn of 1821. The 


Liverpool visit was paid to Charles Mathers, a Burslem potter, who had been Clowes 
fellow-workman in Hull and his pal in wickedness. Mathers had afterwards removed 
to Liverpool and, while working at the Herculaneum Pottery, had come under powerful 
religious impressions that were deepened by the tragically sudden death by drowning, 
in 1811, of T. Spencer, the gifted young Independent minister. He united with the 
Wesleyan Methodists, but rather as a seeker than as one who had found salvation- 
Sick of soul, he bethought him of his old companion who had experienced the great 
change. He said within himself : " If only I can see Clowes, he will tell me how he 
found peace, and how I too may find it." Thus motived he set out to walk to 
Staffordshire, and the first day got as far as Knutsford, where he stopped at an kin for 
the night. While at prayer in his bedroom " the Lord appeared in power, loosed him 
from his guilty chains, and set him free. He then was convinced that the Lord could 
convert souls without William Clowes." Mathers now travelled on to Staffordshire 
with a buoyant heart, telling people on the road what the Lord had done for him. 
" When we met together," says Clowes, " we were glad, and, some time after, I spent 
a week with him and his wife"; and it was during this visit that Clowes preached 
at Liverpool, " near the theatre," and also at Euncorn. From the fact that Mather's 
memoir was written by Clones, we may fairly infer that he died in 1819 a Primitive 
Methodist ; but as the memoir is silent as to where he died, we cannot be sure that 
he died a Liverpool Primitive Methodist. 

The next event connected with Liverpool's origin known to us, is John Ride's 
arrest for street-preaching, and his speedy release through the alleged intervention 
of Dr. A. Clarke. The date of this incident may approximately be fixed as March 
or April, 1821 ; for, Thomas Bateinan tells us, it was the March quarterly meeting 
of Burland Branch which sent John Ride on his mission, which embraced "the city 
of Chester, the town of Wrexham, several growing places in Wirral, and the great 
town of Liverpool at the end of them." 

Next, we have the published recollections of Mr. Henry Howard one of the 
original members of the first society-class formed in Liverpool by the help of which 
the story is carried a stage further.* According to Mr. Howard, on a certain day 
probably May 31st, 1821, a young man, plainly attired, might have been seen trying 
to escape from a number of persons who were following him and pelting him with 
mud. He and his assailants had just landed from the packet plying between Runcorn 
and Liverpool. The young man was James Roles, the Preston Brook preacher, and 
this was how he came to the Liverpool mission. He had been redeeming the time 
by preaching to his fellow-passengers, and some of them were now in this fashion 
requiting him for his well-meant efforts. The young man's plight was observed by the 
proprietor of an hotel which stood near the landing-stage. The preacher was invited 
to enter ; his clothes were cleaned, and he was urged to remain until he could leave 
with safety. Mr. Roles stayed three days with his hospitable entertainers, who after- 
wards declined all remuneration, and then found lodgings with Mrs. Bentley in 
Westmoreland Street, where the first class was afterwards formed. Mr. Howard 
further states that on Sunday, June 3rd, he heard James Roles preach at the top 

* " Primitive Methodist Jubilee Report, January 29th, 1872." Drawn up by Rev. W. Wilkinson. 


of Gascoyne Street, Vauxhall Road, in the morning, and at six p.m. in Gal ton Street, 
Great Howard Street ; and that he heard him again on the Sunday following. Then 
J. Platt, a native of Faddiley in Burland Branch, took the place of J. Roles, and, on 
June 17th, a class of seven members was formed. The small society took and fitted 
up a room in Upper Dawson Street, behind St. John's Market, which was opened by 
one Jane Gordon.* So far Mr. Howard, whose statements must be harmonised and 
probably are harmonisable with a couple of entries found in Thomas Bateman's 
Journal of a little later date. On October 2nd, 1821, he writes: "We have opened 
Liverpool, but it is too far away ; we cannot work it as we ought So we are taking 
steps to get the Preston Brook Circuit to join us for them to take it one fortnight 
and we another." The arrangement thus foreshadowed did, in fact, obtain between 
Michaelmas and Christmas, and so on January 27th of the following year, Thomas 
Bateman writes again : " "We have given up Liverpool to Preston Brook, our hands 
being too full, and so many more wanting us. But, alas ! for Liverpool. I fear it 
won't be worked very well." He intimates that Burland Avas the more reconciled to 
surrender Liverpool because James Bonsor, " that successful missionary," was at 
Christmas appointed to Liverpool. He arrived on January 12th, but, if we may 
judge by his Journal in the Magazine, he remained there only three weeks, then 
moving on to Chester. Still, while he was in Liverpool he worked hard, as he had done 
in Manchester and, indeed, as he invariably did. His Sundays especially were crowded 
with services of one kind or another indoors and out-of-doors. He speaks of having 
joined six members at one service, and of having witnessed many conversions. In 
March, John Abey and Sarah Spittle were appointed, and between the Conferences 
of 1823 and 1824, Liverpool was made a circuit, and its name duly appears on the 
stations for the latter year, with Paul Sugden and S. Spittle as its preachers. 

The chapel which James Bonsor more than once refers to was possibly old 
Maguire Street, since Mr. Howard tells us that this was occupied, conjointly with 
the Swedenborgians, at the close of 1821 or beginning of 1822. The Primitives 
had the use of it at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and the Swedenborgians took their turn at 
10.30 and in the afternoon. This singular arrangement, though the result of a friendly 
agreement, ended as it might be expected to end. The sequel of the joint occupancy 
reminds us of the cuckoo in the hedge-sparrow's nest. The Primitives grew and the 
Swedenborgians did not ; and in 1823 they vacated the building, and left the more 
vigorous section in sole possession. It was held on rent until 1828, and then purchased 
for 600 and retained until 1864. Thus Maguire Street must be added to the long 
list of plain old-fashioned chapels, of which Cooper's Gardens was the latest example, 
which, during the early years, played so large a part in the life of our churches in 
the large towns. We have no picture of Maguire Street to present to our readers, 
but in lieu of it we have a description given by one who knew it well : 

" Externally there was nothing but a dark gable-end, with a dwelling-house on 
each side, which formed part of the front, and not in the least detached. A door, 
level with the street, led into a passage between the houses, and running their 

* It is hardly necessary to say that this person was not Mrs. Jane Gordon, of Filey, who was 
not converted until 1823. 


depth ; at the end of which, on the ground-floor, was a large room used for Sunday 
School and other purposes. On each side, at the end of the passage, was a flight 
of stone steps leading to the chapel. Internally there was nothing to alter my 
estimate of our position in this large and wealthy community. A few rows of 
pews and forms in the centre of the floor, and a single row of three pews fixed 
lengthwise to the wall on either side, made up the accommodation below ; while 
a gallery crossing the end of the chapel, and reached by a flight of stairs, to be 
seen when you had ascended from the passage on the right-hand side, afforded 
all the accommodation above. A large dome-like window in the roof, and two 
large circular-headed windows, looking into some crowded courts behind, afforded 
all the light admitted into the place. The pulpit, fixed against the wall between 
the long windows, faced you as you entered. The singers occupied the space on 
the left of the preacher, the pulpit-stairs that on his right." * 

The situation of the chapel had little to commend it, nor were its approaches at 
all prepossessing. The opening of the new docks had changed the character of 
Vauxhall Road and the streets branching from it, much for the worse. There was 
a large Irish element in the population of the district, and legalised drunkeries 
abounded, so that those who would worship in Maguire Street had often to run the 
gauntlet of unseemly sights and brawls. But, despite these drawbacks, there is evidence 
to show that the old building could inspire warm affection in those whose "due feet " did 
not fail to attend its ordinances. " Friends," said Samuel Atterby (who travelled here 
in 1841-3), "if it should please God to end my period of work while in this circuit, 
let me be buried in this ' Glory hole.' I can ask nothing better." There would be 
many who could appreciate this enthusiastic outburst, for many a stirring meeting 
was held in the schoolroom to which he referred and in the chapel above. W. Clowes 
was at Maguire Street, June, 1829, when several persons "were in distress for their 
souls, and cried to God for mercy." It was the Sunday after he had assisted at the 
embarkation of the first missionaries to the United States. William Knowles, who 
was Liverpool's only minister when the Conference of 1829 met, was one of these 
pioneer missionaries. Thus early did Liverpool's sympathetic connection with the 
wider missionary movements of the Connexion begin to show itself. All down the 
years we meet with other indications of this connection. Thomas Lowe, an eaily 
enthusiast of African missions, went out into the ministry from Liverpool in 1836. 
Captain Robinson, of the " Elgiva," and ship-carpenter Hands, who prepared the way 
for our mission to Fernando Po, were both members of Liverpool Second Circuit ; 
and W. Holland, who succeeded Messrs. Burnett and Roe, the pioneer missionaries 
on that island, was also another of Liverpool's gifts to Primitive Methodism. The 
Liverpool societies have not been slow to speed the parting and to welcome the 
returning missionary, or to remember him practically while absent on the field as 
the provision of a boat for the use of the Fernandian mission showed. In rendering 
such service, Ex-Vice-President Caton has been conspicuous. 

Thomas Bateman spoke truly of Liverpool when he said : " It did not improve as 

* " Gatherings from Memory," a series of interesting articles on the early history of Liverpool 
Primitive Methodism, said to have been written by Mr. H. Simpson, which ran through the 
Christian Messenger of 1875. 




fast as was desired or expected." In 1829, when the numerical returns of the stations 
are first given, it reported but 143 members, and the second hundred was not turned 
until 1832, in which year it had but one preacher. It was not until 1860 that 
Birkenhead, which had been made a branch in 1857 under W. Wilkinson, became an 
independent station with 260 members, and with J. Macpherson 
as superintendent, leaving Liverpool with 500 members and 
three preachers J. Garner, J. Travis, and E. A. Davies. From 
these facts it will be seen how comparatively recent has been 
the development of our Church in the city by the Mersey, which 
now has, including Birkenhead, seven stations and an aggregate 
membership of 1536. We reach the same conclusion if, turning 
from the numerical returns of then and now, a comparison be 
instituted on the material side. It is not so much a development 
we see as a revolution. Since 1849 the old chapels have gone as 
REV w WILKINSON though they belonged to another dispensation. In the early part 
of 1834, Maguire Street was the only chapel possessed by the 
Primitives in Liverpool, though services were held in rooms and houses at various 
points ; but towards the end of the year a chapel was opened at Mount Pleasant, 
afterwards superseded by Walnut Street Chapel ; another chapel in Prince William 
Street, which had belonged to the New Connexion Methodists, was acquired, and 
a chapel was also opened at Bebington, on the Cheshire side. Save that Walnut Street 
has taken the place of Mount Pleasant, the plan for the first quarter of 1849 shows 
no alteration. Liscard, Birkenhead, Prescot, Lime Kiln Lane, Bootle, Garston, and 
Wallasey are names of places found on this plan. Afterwards the Seaman's Chapel in 
Rathbone Street was obtained, and in 1860, under the superintendency of James Garner, 
" Pentecost" and the "Jubilee" chapels were opened. 

Who and what sort of men were they who preached in these old chapels and rooms 
that, like themselves, have long since passed away 1 ? Here, on an old plan of 1834, 
we have their names. Thanks to documents and reminiscences penned long ago, some 
of these names stand out in momentary distinctness, so that they become something 
more than names to us, and we can recognise their individual traits. Here, for 
instance, as the file-leader of the locals is J. Cribbin, a Manxman, but long resident 
in Liverpool, a notable figure in his day, who, in the decline of life, will die in 
distant New Orleans. No. 6 is J. Murray, "a Christian lawyer," whose face, meant 
for smiles, cannot disguise the marks of care and sorrow. Next to him stands the 
name of G. Horbury, the circuit-steward, a Yorkshireman, who had been associated 
with the founders ; a stickler for rule ; a plain-haired Primitive himself, and 
who expected all his brethren to "wear their hair in its natural form." No. 13 is 
Hannah Ashton, who was skilled in helping the penitent out of the Slough of Despond, 
and often held the hand of those who went down into the dark river. Then 
comes W. Gibson, once a prosperous merchant, but whose ships foundered one 
after another, so that at last a tablet placed over the door of his residence at Everton 
had inscribed on it the words: "I was brought low, but the Lord raised me up." 
No. 17 marks the name of F. Hunt, who died in 1849, on his way into the interior 



of South America. Lastly, at the bottom of the list of locals on " full " plan is the 
name, written with his own hand, of Richard Corfield, who in 1834 had just come 


from the Oswestry Circuit, and who was to do yeoman service for Liverpool Primitive 
Methodism until his death in 1900. He came a country -bred youth into the great 


town. For a time he was almost stunned by the tide of life surging around him. 
It was some time before he could find his feet or adapt himself to his environment; 



everything was so strange and new. He had his struggles with the seductions and 
distractions continually presented. But he was a strong man and won, anchoring 
himself among his own people. But as fve read in the autobiographic memoranda 
he has left, of his self-chidings and struggles, we think we can the better understand 




the greatness, and the inevitability, too, of the leakage that must have gone on in the 
early days of our Church, consequent on the migration of our adherents from the 
villages into the big towns. Many of the best men in the Liverpool societies, like 
Richard Corfield, were from the country, but these, it is to be feared, were but the 
salvage of those who had drifted. They were the stalwarts men like John Gledsdale, 
S. Wellington, H. Simpson, James Kennaugh, and others who. might be named. 

Some of the societies no longer forming part of the original Preston Brook, Chester, 
or Liverpool Circuits were missioned quite early. For example, the societies of 
Frodsham and Kingsley, now giving their joint names to a circuit in the Liverpool 
District, were visited by H. Bourns as early as 1819. Parr, now part of the Earlstown 
Circuit, in 1836 had been recently missioned by Liverpool, and had a society of 
twenty-six members. As late as 1839 no permanent footing had been got in Birkenhead, 
but, two or three years after, the opening of new docks and streets brought an influx 
of population to tli<> district, amongst which were found some zealous adherents of the 

Connexion, one of whom opened his house 

for services, and a cause was established 

which continued to grow. 

Ellesmere Port, at the mouth of the canal 

which connects the Mersey and the Severn, 

has an interesting history which links us 

with the past. In this comparatively modern 

village our Church holds a commanding, it 

might even be said a unique, position. It 

possesses property to the value of about 

9000, including a splendid chapel with an 

average congregation of six hundred, large 
Day Schools, Public Hall and Institute, the latter comprising Cafe, Recreation Rooms, etc. 
The foundation of this success was prepared for in the old cottage at Pooltown (shown 
in our illustration), where Mr. John Wynne and his twin-daughters 'resided. For more 




than eighty years services were held in this cottage, and only ceased to be held there 
some few years ago, on the erection of a neat chapel at Pooltown. Mrs. Lewis, one 
of the daughters, still resides in the cottage ; the other daughter was married to 
Mr. John Stockton, who not only opened his house for the first services held at 
Ellesmere Port, but in other ways greatly assisted in the establishment of the society 
which has attained such proportions. He is worthily represented by his grandson 
Mr. W. Stockton. Others who by their character and long service contributed to 
mould and strengthen the cause at Ellesmere Port, were Mr. Richard Woodward and 

Mr. Thomas Hales. The latter, who came from Shropshire 
in 1840 to take up the position of canal manager, retired 
to Ellesmere on vacating his post, and died in 1892. 
As superintendent of the Ellesmere Port Sunday School, 
it was, for a number of years, Mr. Hales' custom to write 
a hymn for the recurring anniversary. Several popular 
hymns, of which probably the authorship has hitherto 
been unknown or wrongly attributed, came from his pen 
in this unobtrusive way hymns such as " Sabbath Schools 
are England's glory"; "When mothers of Salem"; "I'll 
away to the Sabbath School " ; " When the morning 
light" ; and " Till Jesus calls us home." 

Buckley Circuit, formed from Chester in 1871, as was 
also Wrexham, is entirely within the Welsh county of 
Flint. Alltami, missioned more than seventy years ago, 
may be regarded as the mother-society of the circuit, since 
in 1838 it built its first chapel and missioned Buckley. The "Tabernacle," which in 
1875 took the place of the chapel built in 1841 and enlarged in 1863, is the largest 
building in Buckley, and shares with the City Temple the distinction of being one 
of the very few Nonconformist places of worship in which Mr. Gladstone delivered 
a public address.* "Among the many names cherished in the station," says one who 
has written of it, " are those of such men as Charles Price, clear-minded, methodical 
and faithful ; Edward Davies, the father of Rev. E. A. Davies ; John Roberts, the 
quaint, emotional Welsh preacher ; Peter Kendrick, kindly, loyal to his Church, mighty 
in deed and word ; Edward Davies, of ' The Mount,' who, though not a local preacher, 
was a devoted member and official of our Church for more than fifty years."! To 
these names may be added those of Mr. E. Bellis, a tried and trusty friend of the 
Buckley Circuit, and W. Wilcock, of Penyffordd, who as a leader in the last tithe- 
war in North Wales had his goods distrained. His cause was ably championed through 
the press and on the platform by Rev. J. Crompton, who was minister of the Buckley 
Circuit at the time, and had a long and useful term of service there. 

* The address was given at Buckley on Monday evening, November 1st, 1885. 
f Rev. J. Phillipson in Christian Messenger, 1900, pp. 21517. 






[JEffi appearance on the stations of Oakengates in 1823, of Shrewsbury and 
Hopton Bank (afterward Ludlow) in 1824, and of Frees Green in 1826, 
registered the geographical advance the Tunstall District by this time had 
made, chiefly in Shropshire, but with extensions into other counties. By 
this enlargement the foundations were laid of the whole of the modern Shrewsbury, 
and of a goodly portion of the West Midland District. Moreover, some of these 
new circuits, almost from the time of their formation, threw out missions into more 
distant counties, the fruit of which was seen after many days. Indeed it would be 
a fairly accurate generalisation to say that we owe the beginnings of our present 
Briu kworth District to Shrewsbury ; of South Wales District to Oakengates ; of Bristol 
District to Tunstall and Scotter's " Western Mission " ; and of Devon and Cornwall 
District to Hull and the General Missionary Committee. Besides being fairly accurate, 
the generalisation also furnishes a useful clue to guide us through the maze-like com- 
plexities of our Connexional development in the South-Western counties. Following, 
then, the actual sequence of events, we now proceed to glance at the making of the 
four Shropshire Circuits already named, beginning with the earliest Oakengates. 


. Hugh Bourne had frequently visited Shropshire on his missionary excursions ; but 
if any fruit remained of these early labours it had been gathered by other communities. 
To the missionaries sent out by Tunstall in the autumn of 1821 Shropshire was new 
ground. They felt their way by Newport and other places, meeting on the whole with 
no great success, until they came into the neighbourhood of Oakengates and Wellington, 
lying almost under the shadow of the Wrekin. Here, in the populous coal and iron 
district of the county, James Bonsor, as leading missionary, and his colleagues at once 
met with much success. Hugh Bourne came to assist at the first camp meeting ever 
held in this part of the country, on May 19th, 1822 the great camp meeting day. 
Even at this date " the Shropshire Mission " had so far prospered that it had already 
become " the Oakengates branch" of Tunstall Circuit ; and in December, 1822, it became 
the Oakengates Circuit, and in 1827 had seven preachers put down to it. In 1828 
the name of the station was changed from Oakengates to Wrockwardine Wood, probably 
because a chapel was built at the latter place at an early date, while, for a long time, 
all efforts to secure a suitable place of worship at Oakengates proved unavailing. 
Subsequently, however, a site was obtained near the Bull Ring, where the first 


missionaries had taken their stand, and when this building was sold to the Birmingham 
and Shrewsbury Kailway Company, the considerable sum realised by the sale enabled 
the trustees to erect a much larger one in a prominent situation, and place it in easy 
circumstances. In 1834 Richard Davies, himself a fruit of the Shropshire Mission, 
was, through the influence of James Bourne, appointed to Wrockwardine Wood. 
The circuit had declined, and there were special difficulties, both legal and financial, 
pressing upon the trust of Wrockwardine Wood Chapel. Thus early the remarkable 
business abilities of Mr. Davies, from which the Connexion was afterwards to reap 
such advantage, were recognised by the discerning. During his four years' term of 
service the station experienced renewed prosperity. Wrockwardine Wood Chapel 
was freed from its difficulties, and additional land bought on which a preacher's house 
was built. Chapels were also opened in the summer of 1835 at Wellington and 
Edgmond. There is a story relating to Edgmond Chapel worth telling, since it shows 
how formidable were the difficulties that had to be overcome by many a village society 
before it could secure its own little freehold and all that it insured independence of 
outside interference and a reasonable guarantee for the future. 

At the time the story opens, Edgmond, now on the Newport station, was a village 
in which there was no religious competition. The State-Church had it all its own 
way and, whether coincidence or consequence, the village was in a bad way. The 
clergyman was one of the old type, now almost obsolete. He kept his pack of hounds, 
and was not more eager to chase the fox than to drive Dissenters from his parish. 
True to the adage, " Like priest, like people," many of his parishioners were not only 
benighted themselves, but stoutly resisted the introduction of the light. Several 
attempts had been made by zealous members of other Churches to preach the Gospel 
in the village notably by a Methodist and a Congregational minister, but they had 
been driven away, bemired with the filth of the kennel through which they had been 
dragged. Now Mrs. Jones, a Primitive Methodist local preacher and leader of Newport, 
who brought the letters to Edgmond every morning, was deeply concerned at the moral 
condition of the place. At her request preachers were sent from Wrockwardine Wood 
to mission the village, and preaching was established at its outskirts. But the distance 
of the preaching-house from the village and the bad state of the roads, coupled with 
the persecution to which both preachers and congregation were subjected, militated 
against success, so that at the September Quarterly Meeting of 1834 the question of 
the abandonment of the place was seriously discussed. However, it was finally decided 
to try what effect would follow from holding a camp meeting before relinquishing it 
altogether. The meeting was duly held in a field lent by a farmer, who had opportunely 
quarrelled with the rector, and it was in every way a great success. In response to an 
appeal Mr. Minshall offered his house, which stood near the Church, for the holding 
of services, and a small society was formed, of which Mrs. Jones, the letter-carrier, 
became the leader; while Mr. Vigars, as the result of the camp meeting, became 
a staunch adherent of the society. The ire of the clergyman was great. Unmoved 
alike by the clergyman's persuasions and threats, Mr. Minshall was summoned to 
appear before the Petty Sessions at Newport for permitting an unlicensed conventicle 
to be held in his house, the clergyman publicly boasting that the fine about to be 

s 2 




inflicted should be distributed among the poor of the village. Mr. Davies took care 
to appear at the Justices' Meeting, and as the clergyman sitting with the magistrates 
was allowed to pour forth a tirade of abuse against the Church of which Mr. Davies 

was the recognised minister, 
Mr. Davies also claimed and 
secured the right to speak in 
vindication alike of the Church 
and of the accused. What 
followed shall be given in 
Mr. Davies' own words : 

" Here one of the magis- 
trates looked at the clergy- 
man, and asked : 'Who is 
the owner of the house in 
which the meetings are 
held ? ' I knew what that 
meant, and said : ' Please, 
your worship, it is now 
of little moment who his 
landlord is, because land 

is purchased on which to erect a chapel in the centre of the village. The deeds 
are executed and the works are let to undertakers, and long before a legal 
notice to quit can expire, the man's house will not be needed for our services.' 
' I never heard a word of that,' said the parson, looking at the magistrates. 
'They must have been quick in accomplishing the thing, and very sly about it.' 
'Yes,' said I, 'both rapidity and secrecy were needed, when we considered the 
gentleman we had to deal with.' The magistrates then retired for consultation, 
and on their return into court the chairman said to the poor man : ' Your house 
is properly licensed, and you have a perfect 
right to worship God in your own way. 
The case is dismissed.' We bowed, and were 
about to leave the court when the parson 
asked the magistrate in a loud voice : ' Who 
is to pay the expenses ? ' The chairman 
looked at him, and sternly said : ' Pay them 
yourself.' On leaving the court a gentleman 
desired me and the poor man to dine with 
him, declaring, although a Churchman, that 
he was highly pleased with the result of 
the trial. The chapel was completed in a 
few months, and the two ministers [Messrs. 
T. Palmer and J. Whittenbury] who had been so cruelly treated in the village 
by the persecutors some time previously, were honoured by an invitation to preach 
the opening sermons, which was cheerfully accepted .... Henceforth the little 
chapel at Edgmond had rest, and the hand of the Lord was upon it for good."* 
* Rev. R. Davies' signed contribution to ' A Book of Marvels or Incidents of Primitive 
Methodism," by Rev. W. Antliff, assisted by numerous contributors. An account of the opening 
of Edgmond Chapel is given in the Magazine for 1836. The names of the actors in this episode 
have been kindly supplied from local sources by Rev W. Forth. 




Another chapel in this same coal and iron district which also has its history may be 
briefly referred to. Dark Lane is the somewhat significant name given to a mass 
of dwelling-houses in the postal district of Shifnal, in the present Oakengates and 
Wellington Circuit. The chapel, which has been erected on one side of this populous 
neighbourhood perpetuates, by means of marble tablets, the memory of two men who 
were devoted workers of the society for upwards of fifty years, and through whose 
prayers and labours the erection of this building was largely due. Thomas Tart 
(died 1892) and William Withington (1902) were, it is said, accustomed to kneel on 
a certain piece of land to pray that the way might be opened for the erection of 
a much-needed chapel in the place. In 1863 permission was given to stake out a site, 


but before building operations could begin there was a change in the ownership of the 
land, with the result that the chapel had to be built on the very spot on which they 
had offered so many prayers. The land is spacious, and the saintly William Withington, 
during his latter years, took an interest in neatly keeping its flower-beds. 

Some of the changes the years have brought to what we may call the home-part 
of the old Wrockwardine Wood Circuit may be briefly noted. Dawley Green and 
other places in the neighbourhood were successfully missioned in 1839-40, with the 
result that Dawley became an independent station in 1854. Madeley, that will ever 
be sacred as the place where the sainted Fletcher laboured and which holds his ashes, 
formed a part of Dawley Circuit until 1881, when it also came on the list of stations. 


Here, too, the venerable Joseph Preston died in 1896 in the 94th year of his age and 
the 73rd of his ministry. Stafford also was for some time a branch of Wrockwardine 
Wood, and Oakengates and Wellington, and Newport Circuits were made from it in 
1865 and 1893 respectively. 


The first missionary to Shrewsbury whose name is given was Sarah Spittle. On 
Sunday, June 30th, she preached thrice in the streets of the picturesque old city, led 
the class, and "joined" nine new members. She remarks that there are now forty-four 
in society, and "a good prospect." From this it is clear that Sarah Spittle must have 
been preceded to Shrewsbury by some other missionary. James Bonsor followed on 
August 4th, by which time the society numbered sixty. It was harvest-time; and 
it was then, and long continued the custom at that season, for the Mardol, one of the 
principal streets of the city, to be thronged by men waiting to be hired for the harvest. 
James Bonsor was moved by this strange profanation of the Lord's Day, to try to 
engage some of these for his Master's service. He took his stand in the crowded street 
and began to preach ; but before he had got through the service he was marched off by 
the constable to the Court House ; and then, as he would not promise "never to preach 
there more," he was led off to prison, singing all the way, and followed by an immense 
crowd. Prayer was made for the missionary at the different chapels, and as a practical 
proof of good-will on the part of some of the citizens, they provided him with no 
less than eight breakfasts ! His detention was but short : at noon, he was taken before 
another magistrate who set him at liberty, and at night he was preaching again with 
"not quite all the people of Shrewsbury" to hear him. 

James Bonsor's arrest and what followed was the talk of the city. It resulted in 
calling attention to the missionaries and securing for them a large measure of public 
sympathy. Shrewsbury did not forget, and is not likely to forget, the hero of the 
Mardol hirings and the eight breakfasts. When, in 1828, he died at Preston-on-the- 
Weald Moors, prematurely broken and worn-out with his excessive labours, the Circuit 
Committee decided " that the Shrewsbury Chapel be in mourning 
for James Bonsor for six weeks," and, as a token of respect 
to his memory, his funeral sermon was preached. But while 
James Bonsor is remembered, Sarah Spittle must not be forgotten. 
Both before, and for some weeks immediately after the Sunday 
of the imprisonment, she laboured in and around the city some- 
times preaching at a camp meeting, at other times in the street, 
or at the Cross so that she is entitled to rank as one of the 
planters of our Church in Shrewsbury. One of the earliest con- 
verts in the city was a girl Elizabeth Johnson. She soon began 
MRS. ELIZ. BROWNHILL, to exhort, and when but sixteen years of age went out, in 1824, 
as a travelling preacher, labouring first in South Wales, and 
afterwards in Wrockwardine Wood, Preston, Kamsor, Darlaston, and Burton-on-Trent 
Circuits. Elizabeth Johnson is better known as Mrs. Brownhill; for, in 1828, she 
was married to Mr. W. Brownhill of Birchills, Walsall. Almost until her death, 


in I860, she preached in the pulpits of what are now circuits in the West Midland 
District. Three of the sons of this girl-preacher of the early days have been Primitive 
Methodist Mayors of the borough of Walsall and, in the language of one of them, 
Mr. W. Brownhill, J.P. : "The greatest honour in the family is the life of the mother; 
and they are following her in trying to make the world better 
than they found it." Sarah Spittle, the Shrewsbury pioneer, 
and P^lizabeth Johnson, one of its proto-converts, show us once 
more, how largely in the early days our Church availed itself of 
female agency, and with what far-reaching and satisfactory results. 
Shrewsbury, which from 1823 had been a branch of Oakengates, 
was in 1824 made a circuit. "Castle Court Chapel was purchased 
at a cost of 850, and was opened in June, 1826. It was an 
old ecclesiastical building under which, at the time of purchase, 
were two vaults. Originally it was a portion of the old Town 

MR w BHOW.VHI Prison or House of Correction. It stood within the ancient walls 

of the town, and overlooked the beautiful vale of the Severn."* 
In this old-time chapel the brethren met to discuss the affairs of their wide circuit, 
with its branches and distant North Wales and Belfast missions ; for Shrewsbury 
has been a prolific mother-circuit from which, during the course of the years, the 
following circuits have been formed, viz.: Brink worth, 1826 ; Bishops Castle, 1832: 
Newtown (Montgomery), 1836; Hadnall, 1838; Minsterley, 1856; Church Stretton, 
1872, and Clun, 1884, from Bishops Castle; Welshpool, 1877, from Minsterley. 

Though it is impossible to follow in detail the history of each of these derivative 
circuits, reference must be made to the missioning of Bishops Castle in August, 1828, 
by Richard Ward and Thomas Evans, a local preacher. The full and interesting 
Journals of Richard Ward, who came from Farndale near Kirby Moorside, reveal a 
cheery and.intrepid spirit which, with Divine assistance, was his g best qualification for what 
-seemed a forlorn hope ; for Bishops Castle had a bad name that found expression in 
more than one reproachful proverbial saying. It was called " the Devil's Mansion," and 
other uncomplimentary names. Dissent was represented by one small Independent 
chapel with an almost extinct church. Other denominations had tried to gain a footing" 
and tried in vain ; the Primitives being amongst the baffled ones. Only the previous 
year, W. Parkinson, one of the Shrewsbury preachers who had been a missionary in 
Jamaica, made the attempt. He ought to have succeeded ; for he had as his ally the 
clergyman of a neighbouring parish, who sometimes preached for the Primitives and 
let them preach in his kitchen. But the two were stoned out of the place. When, on 
the 10th August, Mr. Ward and his companion saw Bishops Castle in the distance and 
" heard the bells giving notice for steeple-worship," they found it needful to encourage 
each other in the Lord, and succeeded, Mr. Ward's faith mounting clear above all 
discouragements, so that he had even a foresight of the day when Bishops Castle should 
be a circuit. Their reception was rough, and it would have been rougher still, had 
not a noted fighter who stood wishful to hear, sworn to defend the missionaries against 

* Communicated by Rev. A. A. Bifchenough. 




the violence which threatened. The pugilist was one of the first to enroll himself 
a member of the society afterwards formed. A woman, "with tears in her eyes," 
offered her cottage for the evening service, but as the mob threatened to burn it down 
or unroof it in case the offer was accepted, they preferred to take their stand again in 

front of the Castle green. Here they managed to deliver 
their message, though under strange conditions ; for, while 
some wept under the influence of the truth, others mocked 
and swore and threw stones. No sooner was the service 
ended than the preacher and his friends were chased by 
the stone-throwers, and had to take to the pastures in order 
to escape the hail of missiles. Mr. Ward, however, seems 
to have thought that on the whole his mission had opened 
promisingly, and the next two Sundays found him again at 
Bishops Castle. Tact and courage won the day. When 
Sunday, August 24th, closed rowdy opposition had died 
down. A society was established and friends raised up 
notably Mr. Pugh, a respectable tradesman of the town, who 
became a local preacher, as did also his two sons. The 
Pugh family were of great service to the new cause, and 
in one of their houses services were held. In 1832, Richard 
Ward's prophecy had its fulfilment, for in that year Bishops Castle began its influential 
career as a circuit. The circuit early gave some useful men to the ministry of our Church, 
such as Thomas Morgan, John Pugh (son of Mr. Pugh already named), Richard Owen ; 
also Robert Bowen, of Asterton, who, in 1851, began to travel in his native circuit, 
and died at. Bishops Castle in 1896. A sister of his (who afterwards became the wife 
of Rev. Philip Pugh) was instrumental in the conversion of the revered James Huff, 
whose long ministry of forty-six years was one of remarkable spiritual power and 
fruitfulness. In the official memoir of Mr. Huff, written by the late Dr. Ferguson, 
we are told: "In 1887, at the time of his superannuation, it was said that out of sixty 
ministers given to our ministry out of the county of Shropshire, 
forty had been led to Christ by our sainted friend." If this 
statement be even approximately true, James Huff has indeed 
carved his name deep in the history of Shropshire Primitive 
Methodism. He was appointed a permanent member of Con- 
ference in 1886, and in 1903 died at Bishops Castle where, in 
1842, he had begun his ministry. 

It was at a camp-meeting lovefeast, conducted by James Huff, 
that a youth named Richard Jones made the great decision. 
The youth developed a character marked by a fine combination 
of strength and tenderness. As leader, local preacher, circuit 
steward, district official, Mr. Richard Jones, of Clun, was widely known, trusted, and 
respected. At Clun especially he was the stay and guide of the society ; and it was 
chiefly through his liberality and guidance that the present church, school, and manse 
were erected, forming, as they do, a block of property which is an ornament to the 



town, a credit to the Connexion, and a tangible memorial of the faith, tact, and sacrifice 
of Mr. Jones, who died January 20th, 1900.* 

To the list of ministers raised up by the original Shrewsbury Circuit must be 
added the eminent names of Philip Pugh and Richard Davies. The former entered 
the ministry in 1836, and died in 1871. As early as 1839 
T. Bateman notes in his Journal: " We have got a new staff 
of preachers. Pugh is a young man from Shrewsbury. / think 
there is something in him studious, obliging, and a tolerable 
preacher." The judgment shows the discernment of the writer, 
but even he when he wrote it, could not have divined what 
possibilities of solid, continuous growth were latent in this studious 
youth from Shrewsbury, whom he lived to see worthily filling the 
office of Editor and President of Conference (1867). Richard 
Davies was one of a number of youths who, in 1823, invited the 
Primitives to Minsterley, promising to find the preacher a room 

for the services and to provide him with board and lodging. Entering the ministry 
in 1825, he was sent to the Wiltshire Mission, but returned to Shrewsbury the next 
year. For six months he was wholly engaged in missioning neglected villages, in 
five or six of which he succeeded in forming societies that were incorporated with the 
Shrewsbury Circuit. This young miner of Minsterley was to become General Book 
Steward and the first Secretary of the Primitive Methodist Insurance Company. 

Probably stimulated by the success of its Wiltshire Mission, Shrewsbury Circuit in 
1832 led the way in establishing a mission in the North of Ireland. Here are one 
or two items from the old minute-books which, doubtless, got written down only after 
much discussion of "pros and cons": "March 18th, 1832: That Brother Haslam go 
into Ireland as soon as he can after next Monday." "September 5th, 1832: That 
Brother Haslam beg at every house in Shrewsbury for Ireland." Unfortunately, 
T. Haslam soon withdrew from the Connexion, and his place on the Mission was 
taken, December, 1834, by W. Bickerdike. On entering upon his duties Mr. Bickerdike 
had his modestTpresentation, as the following entry shows : " December, 1836. That 
Brother Bickerdike have one volume of our Large Magazine given him as a token of 
respect." The good opinion evidently already formed of W. Bickerdike was abundantly 
justified by his after career. He applied himself vigorously to repair the mischief 
caused by the withdrawal of his predecessor, and succeeded (1836) in building a chapel 
in Belfast to take the place of the room in Reas Court. In 1839 the powerful Dudley 
Circuit relieved Shrewsbury of the charge of the Belfast Mission. When, in 1843-4, 
the three Irish missions were taken over by the General Missionary Committee, it 
cannot be said that they had hitherto proved particularly successful, or answered the 
expectations of their promoters. 


Hopton Bank, afterwards called Ludlow, represents the south-western extension of 
the young and vigorous Darlaston Circuit. Hopton Bank must not be thought of as 

* Rev. W. Jones Davies, a spiritual son of Mr. Jones, has published an " Appreciation " of 
Mr. Jones, in which are to be found interesting notices of Bishops Castle and Clun Circuits. 


a comparatively compact circuit of the modern type, but rather as a tract of country 
extending from Kidderminster to Presteign. About midway between these two 
extreme points is Hopton Bank which, probably for that very reason, was made the 
titular head of the circuit ; but as the ancient town of Ludlow was the more con- 
venient town for the preachers' residence, the name was changed. We are not able, 
any more than was Mr. Petty, to furnish interesting particulars as to the first missioning 
of this wide district. From the memoir of Mrs. Grace Newell, who is stated to 
have provided a home for the first missionaries that reached Presteign, that town and 
other places in Radnorshire, were visited as early as the autumn of 1821. Again, in 
the memoir of Samuel Morris, who Was born at Fordham near Glee Hills in 1815, we 
are told that the Darlaston Circuit missioned Fordham and the district around while 
he was but a small boy, and that the Morris family opened their house for preaching, 
and were among the chief supporters of the Hopton Bank Circuit. Samuel Morris 
began his ministry in his native circuit in 1836 and, what was very unusual at 
that time, spent the whole of his probation upon it. Once more : we find that 
Thomas Norman was one of the preachers of Darlaston Circuit in 1823 and stationed 
in Ludlow when seized with mortal sickness in the spring of that year. These small 
pieces of evidence justify the conclusion that, from 1821 onwards to 1824, when 
Hopton Bank was made a circuit, extensive evangelisation in this wide district was 
being carried on under the direction of Darlaston. 

We get an interesting side-light on the missionary activity of the Ludlow Circuit 
(as we will call it) from the life-story of Elizabeth Smith, afterwards Mrs. Russell. 
We see the geographical direction that missionary activity took, how far it reached, 
and, above all, how simply and trustfully it was undertaken and carried on. 
Elizabeth Smith is one of the most picturesque figures in our early history. She 
deservedly takes a high place among the many female-workers of the early decades, 
and the reference to her here is the more in place as we shall soon meet with her hard 
at work in Wiltshire. She was converted at the Christmas of 1825, while on a visit 
to Ludlow, her native place. She soon began to exercise in prayer and to exhort, and 
when, in the September of 1826, a request came out of Radnorshire that a missionary 
might be sent to a part of the county as yet unvisited, Elizabeth Smith was urged to 
undertake the mission, and, despite the opposition of her friends, gladly consented. 
Her going forth was apostolically simple. The superintendent put a map of the road 
into her hand, and supplemented it with verbal directions. Said he: "You will have 
to raise your own salary two guineas a quarter." "Oh, I did not know I was to 
have anything," was the answer. She travelled the whole of the first day, and night 
found her on a lonely common or rather " moss," for it was partly covered with water, 
and there were deep treacherous peat-holes, like miniature tarns, all around. Fully 
alive to the danger, she mounted a ridge and began to sing, " Jesu, Lover of my soul." 
While still singing she saw a light gradually coming towards her. Her singing had 
been heard by the residents of a cottage that stood on the edge of the common, and 
one of them bearing a lantern had come out to learn what was the meaning of this 
unusual nocturnal hymn. Guided by her voice, he made his way to where she was 
standing. She found shelter in the cottage which, indeed, proved to be the very house 


to which she had been directed. "Of course," says the narrative, "they all believed 
the hand of the Lord was in it.'' 

Elizabeth Smith met with another similar experience while pioneering in " wild 
Wales." When crossing the Llandeilo rocks overlooking the valley of the upper Wye, 
the mist came on, and she got off the track. In a few moments she would have fallen 
over the precipice, had she not given heed to a premonition so real to her that it 
sounded like a voice crying : " Stop ! come back ! " 

We are not surprised to learn that Elizabeth Smith " practised great frugality so as 
not to be burdensome to the friends, that she won the affections of the people, and 
that the Welsh mission as carried on by her cost nothing to the Ludlow Circuit." 

Richard Jukes, the poet-preacher, has 1 been more than once referred to in these 
pages. In him we have another link connecting Ludlow with the general history 
of our Church ; for he was a native of Ludlow Circuit, joined the society in 1825 
the same year as Elizabeth Smith and in 1827 began his ministry of thirty-two 
years by being appointed one of the six preachers of Ludlow Circuit. When, in 
January, 1900, Mr. James Tristram died at the patriarchal age of 91, there passed 
away one who had been connected with Ludlow Primitive Methodism ever since the 
day when the missioners from Darlaston held their first service in Old Street. He was 
seventy-three years a local preacher, and when a young man was engaged by his circuit 
to mission Much Wenlock, Madeley, Iron Bridge, and other places. From 1886 to 
1896 James Tristram was a permanent member of Conference, and his descendants 
of two generations are in the ranks of the ministry. With but a reasonable degree 
of prosperity premised, it was inevitable that Ludlow Circuit should be divided, 
comprising, as it did, portions of four counties Shropshire, Worcestershire, Hereford, 
and Radnorshire. It was natural, too, that when the division was made it should 
take effect at the extremities. This is indeed what happened, and the statement 
of the fact summarizes the external history of the circuit for a period extending 
beyond 1843. First, Presteign was detached in 1828, and Kidderminster followed in 
1832. Even then the process of division was only begun, for Presteign still included 
Knighton, which has since been made a circuit ; and for some years after 1851 Ludlow 
had no less than five branches, viz., Leominster, Leintwardine, Weobley, Bromyard, 
and Worcester all of which are now circuits of the West Midland District. 


Things which happened together must needs be told one after the other ; so, at 
the very time Oakengates, Shrewsbury, and Ludlow were at work in the central and 
Southern parts of Shropshire, Burland was at work in the Northern part of the county. 
Thanks to the carefully-kept Journal of Thomas Bateman, we can follow the progress 
of the mission from October, 1820, when "the work was opening out in Wirral and 
Shropshire," to 1826, when the Prees Green Circuit was made. Here also, just as had 
been the case at Oakengates and Shrewsbury, a camp meeting and an imprisonment 
were outstanding events having important consequences. 



At the Whitsuntide of 1822, news reached Burland that some new converts were 
arranging to hold a camp meeting at Waterloo, between Wem and Whitchurch. 
Dubious as to the young people's ability for the work in hand, and having a whole- 
some dread of possible irregularities, the Circuit Committee deputed G. Taylor, J. Smith, 
and T. Bateman to take charge of the camp meeting. They rose early, for they had 
a long walk before them. An unexpected rain-storm, for which they were unprepared, 
led them to turn into the preaching-house at Welsh End, to dry their clothes by the 
peat-fire. But the drying process was slow, and time pressed, and they resumed their 
journey. When they reached Waterloo the camp meeting was already in progress. 


They found a Mr. Humpage in charge, who gladly resigned its management into their 
hands.* All went well until about the middle of the afternoon service, when a number 
of young sparks rode up and formed in line on the outskirts of the crowd, and seemed 
disposed to mock ; while others, who had behaved decorously enough up to that time, 
gave signs of following their lead. The conduct of the disturbers was felt to demand 
a public reproof, and Thomas Bateman was chosen to administer it. Taking as his 
text the words : " Suffer me that I may speak ; and after that I have spoken mock on," 
he gave a pointed exhortation, every word of which seemed to find its mark. It was 

* We conjecture this Mr. Humpage to be the person already mentioned in Vol. i. p. 520, in 
connection with Darlaston. 


noticed that the heads of the youths soon drooped ; they listened to the end, and 
then rode quietly away. 

This originally unauthorised camp meeting had on it the seal of the divine approval ; 
for its results, immediate and remote, were remarkable. Thirty years after, Thomas 
Bateman was riding through Whitchurch on his way to open a chapel in the neighbour- 
hood of Wem, when he met with another horseman who also was going to the chapel- 
opening. From him he learned that the faithful words spoken so long ago had borne 
almost immediate fruit in contrition and amendment of life; that the young men 
(of whom the horseman was one), as they rode away from the camp-ground, had made 
vows vows that time, and the efforts some of them had afterwards made to help on 
the evangelisation of the country-side, had proved the sincerity of. 

Waterloo, like the battle of that name, was one of the " decisive " camp meetings 
of our early history. It wonderfully opened up the way into this part of Cheshire 
and the borders of Wales. Many requests for the establishment of services at places 
around Ellesmere, Wem, and even Oswestry were urged, and, from this 26th May, 1822, 
increasing headway was made in the district. In June there had been but four local 
preachers in this part of the Burland Circuit, whereas in September there were 
thirteen, besides some prayer-leaders. It was now determined 
that this side of the circuit should be constituted a branch, 
under the name of " the Shropshire Station.", This somewhat 
unusual designation was chosen for reasons similar to those which 
often decide the election of a pope. Strong rival claimants 
who will not give way for each other, will sometimes combine to 
elect some cardinal whom no one had thought of as a possible 
competitor. Market Drayton was the more important place, and 
it had memories. But Market Drayton was at the extremity of 

the branch. Frees Green was central, but in short, they shrank 

WILUAM DOUGHTV. ^ rom ca ^ in g ^ as 7 et " Frees Green Branch," and fell back upon 
the neutral " Shropshire Mission." Three preachers were put 
down to the mission, and one of them W. Doughty was appointed to break up 
new ground. 

W. Doughty found his way to Oswestry, and on his third visit, there occurred his 
arrest and imprisonment which, next to the camp meeting already referred to, turned out 
to the furtherance of the cause. On June 8th, he took his stand at the Bailey Head, 
opposite the Red Lion, and because he saw neither law nor reason why he should 
desist from preaching when Brynner, the constable, and his assistant told him to do 
so, they carried him off, and eventually put him in a grated cell under the council 
chamber. A good woman named Douglas brought him food, and though the place in 
which he was confined was, to use his own words, "too dark to write clear," he 
did indite " a letter from prison " to his benefactor which after being revised by 
Mr. Whitridge, the kindly Independent minister, was printed, and may still be read. 
The Independents, both minister and people, showed W. Doughty much kindness. 
Acting on the advice of one of them Mr. Minshall, a solicitor he refused to 
walk to Shrewsbury to serve his sentence of a month's imprisonment, so a tax-cart 



was provided to carry him there. He told the crowd, gathered in Salop Road to see 
him off, that in a month's time they would see him coining down this road, and, said 
he, " I shall sing this hymn " giving out a line of it ; and he kept his word. From 
this time Primitive Methodism gained a footing in Oswestry. Even the magistrate 
who had committed him to prison granted him his licence, and granted it with 
kindly words. W. Doughty is said to have sought the protection of a licence, 
warned by the recent experience of Mr. Whittaker of Knolton Bryn, who had been 
fined by the magistrates of Overtoil twenty pounds for preaching in an unlicensed 
house.* In those days licences, whether for places or persons were useful, even 
indispensable documents. But, though Mr. Doughty might now enjoy immunity from 
persecution in Oswestry, he occasionally met with it elsewhere. For example, it is 
stated that when he and J. Mullock were at Tetchill, two men on horseback charged 
them, and that Mr. Doughty was ridden over, and his head so cut that the blood ran 

through his hat. One is glad 
to learn that a gentleman of 
public spirit Mr. Hughes 
of Ellesmere took up the 
case, and brought the mis- 
creants to justice.t 

For a time the services in 
Oswestry were held in the 
house of Mrs. Elliot, who 
also extended hospitality to 
the preachers. She stood by 
VV. Doughty at the Bailey 
Head on the 8th June, as 
also did her daughter, who 
had a sweet, well-trained 
voice and greatly helped in 
the singing. Elizabeth Elliot 
deserves to be remembered 
alike for her graces and her 
fate. She should be placed 
side by side with Thomas 


Kemoved from old Chapel. Watson, and John Heaps of 

Cooper's Gardens, as an example of the amount of work that was done and well 
done, in the early days by those who were still in their teens. Doughty's imprison- 
ment affected her more than his sermon. She joined the church and began to 
preach. "She was," we are told, "an excellent speaker; generally short, but very 
powerful." She was in great request, very useful, much beloved. But her promising 

*" Early Recollections of Mr. William Doughty, and of Primitive Methodism in Oswestry." 
By Mr. Thomas Minshall. 1873. 

t "Career of William Doughty: his Preaching, Punishment, and Prison Thoughts." Reprinted 
with additions from the " Oswestry Advertiser," April 8th, 1863. 


life had an early and tragic close. On Saturday, April 23rd, 1825, she started 
for her Sunday appointments at Llandreino, in Montgomeryshire. As she stepped 
into the ferry-boat at Pant (Llanyinynech) she said, in parting with a friend whose 
hospitality she had shared: "Pray for me." Now, the river Virniew, swollen by 
the rains from the Welsh mountains, was in angry flood. There was a chain across 
the river to keep the cattle from straying. Instead of crossing below the chain, the 
boatman fatuously attempted to cross above stream, and the boat, being violently 
thrown against the chain, capsized, and Elizabeth Elliot and the boatman's wife 
were drowned. 

At the June Quarterly Meeting of 1825 the Shropshire Station got itself made into 
the Prees Green Circuit. We say " got itself made," because the making was done 


against the wishes of the parent circuit, and " rather prematurely," Hugh Bourne 
thought. Thus a mere hamlet came to give its name to a historic circuit which 
embraced more than north Shropshire, and is now represented by at least seven circuits. 
Hard by is the village of Prees, with its "weather-beaten church on the hilL" Of this 
church Archdeacon Allen, the friend of Edward Fitzgerald and Thackeray, was vicar 
from 1846 to 1883. The vicar was on good terms with his Primitive Methodist 
parishioners. He took the chair at the lectures Robert Key delivered on his periodical 
visits to the village. He co-operated with them in Temperance work. When some 
one asked him to preach in* the Primitive Methodist chapel he, in 1874, wrote to 
Dean Stanley inviting his views on the general question whether there is any law 
to prohibit a clergyman of the Established Church from officiating in any meeting-house 


in his parish; Archdeacon Allen evidently believing there was no such prohibitive 
law. In this letter to the Dean he says : "The Primitive Methodists have done a great 
work at Frees in encouraging sobriety and thrift. Thirty years ago there were ten 
houses in Frees where intoxicating liquor was sold ; now there are only two, and in 
only one of these can drink be consumed on the premises. This happy change 
is not due solely to the Primitive Methodists, but they have been special labourers 
on the side of sobriety." Who were these " special labourers " who commanded the 
Archdeacon's respect and willing co-operation ? Materials for an answer are supplied 
by Rev. S. Horton, himself a native of Frees : 

" Two brothers of the name of Powell got converted at a camp meeting. From 
being the ringleaders in wickedness they became the ringleaders in righteousness. 
They were men of marked ability and force of character. William Powell prospered 
greatly, and became the head of a large firm, employing some hundreds of men. 
He could neither read nor write when he was converted and, when he commenced 
work as a local preacher, used to recite his hymns and passages of Scripture from 
memory. But he was a force in the neighbourhood that made for righteousness, 
and everybody respected his sterling integrity and uprightness of character. 
Another village-reformer of a different type was Samuel Adams, a well-read, 
thoughtful man, with deep spiritual insight, and a lover of everything beautiful 
and true the leading temperance reformer of the place. Then there was also 
Joseph Ikin, one that feared God and eschewed evil, whose descendants are among 
the prominent supporters of Methodism in the neighbourhood to-day. These and 
others, less prominent but like-minded, were the leaders of the Primitive Methodist 
Church, and were by training and conviction Nonconformists of the old sturdy" 
type, that resisted church-rates, and would to-day undoubtedly, if alive, have led 
a campaign for 'passive resistance' against the Education Bill."* 

To these names must be added that of Thomas Rogers, whose long and honourable 
connection with our Church was recognised by his election as a permanent member 
of Conference. He was house-carpenter at Hawkstone Park the seat of the family 
to which belonged Lord Hill, Wellington's second in command, and the eccentric 
Rowland Hill, of old Surrey Chapel. Lord Hill of Hawkstone both gave and sold 
several sites for the building of chapels in this neighbourhood, and it was through 
Thomas Rogers' influence, it is said, that the first of such sales was brought about. 

Much was said in a preceding part of this History of the " vision-work " which 
marked the formative period of the Connexion. Hugh Bourne came across it again 
when on a visit to Frees Green Circuit in October, 1828. Two young women went 
into trance while he was there ; and, though he was struck Avith " the dignity with 
which the two young persons conducted their cause," and thought their singing when 
in the trance was " beyond anything he remembered to have heard," yet the counsel 
he gave the society indicates a more critical attitude towards these doubtful phenomena 
than he had taken twenty years before. " I gave them," says he, " the general advices 
usually given in our Connexion, and which are: (1) None to go in vision if they 
can avoid it. (2) Not to lay too much stress upon it. (3) That faith, plain faith, 

* Article on "Archdeacon Allen" in Primitive Methodist Quarterly Review, July, 1903 


which worketh by love, is greater than these things ; but that if any one's faith was 
strengthened by them, so far it was well." 

When in 1833 Oswestry was formed into a circuit, a huge cantle of territory lying 
to the west was cut off from Frees Green. Still, Market Drayton remained to it as 
a branch and, more singular still, Longton in the Potteries was also a branch until 
1836, when it appeared on the stations for a time as a separate circuit, with 
Thomas Russell as superintendent. Market Drayton continued connected with Frees 
Green until 1869, and Wem until 1878. 


Oswestry Circuit had a good start. It had a membership of 697, and a good staff 
of workers and capable officials. Its "lot" no narrow one to begin with, was capable 
of indefinite enlargement in certain directions ; for its way lay open into the Welsh 
counties of Flint, Denbigh, and Montgomery. Its history shows that it can fairly 
claim to have been a missionary circuit. It did cross the English border. Three 
other circuits have been formed from it and, in addition, it undertook for some years 
the responsibility of the Lisburn Mission. Moreover, it was long known for the 
liberal support it gave to the general missionary fund. 

In Oswestry itself, a building called the Cold Batjh had been transformed into 
a chapel, which was opened by Thomas Bateman on December 12th, 1824. Soon after 
this, W. Doughty retired from the ministry and began business in one of the houses 
attached to the chapel ; but he still continued a most active official, as the plans and 
documents of the times clearly show. In, or about, 1840, a new chapel was built 
in Oswestry, and by this time chapels in other parts of the wide circuit had been 
acquired. Trouble, however, arose in Oswestry, which led to a serious secession and 
to chapel embarrassments. The primary cause of the trouble seems to have been 
disagreement on a point of doctrine. Some young men adopted and publicly advanced 
views on infant purity which we take to have been practically identical with the 
published views of Rev. Nathan Rouse, which brought him under the discipline of the 
Wesleyan Methodist Conference. It was maintained as a direct corollary of John 
Wesley's doctrine of Christian Perfection that, in the case of children born to parents 
who are themselves entirely sanctified, the entail of original sin is broken. Senior 
officials, if they did not understand or share the views of their juniors, were dissatisfied 
with the treatment meted out to these by the local and District courts, and 
W. Fitzgerald and R. Thomas, who had been zealous co-workers with W. Doughty from 
the beginning seceded, and many others with them.* W. Doughty himself followed 
in 1846 (though his family did not), and the secessionists built a chapel for themselves 
as an " Independent Methodist " society. We shall not seek to follow the secession 
through its subsequent vicissitudes. Our only reason for referring to it at all is, that 
the crisis it created served to bring out the high qualities of Mr. Edward Parry and 
other of the Oswestry Circuit officials ; and, secondly, because the secession itself is 
one of the very few in our history which are distinctly traceable to doctrinal differences. 

* J. Whittaker, W. Fitzgerald, and R. Thomas are the first three names on the plan of 1843 
after the travelling preachers. 





Our fathers were too busy pressing home vital doctrines to have time or disposition 
to dispute about minor ones. 

In writing of Mr. Edward Parry and the special service he rendered at this critical 

time, we will borrow the words of Mr. T. 

Ward Green, the present owner of " The Wood " 

estate, Maesbrook, and a leading official of the 

Llanymynech Circuit : 

" The Oswestry Circuit of that time was 
an immense affair, more resembling in its 
area and agencies an ecclesiastical diocese 
than a Methodist station. Of this im- 
portant and influential circuit Mr. Parry 
was for thirty-seven years the steward, 
and on his retirement from office, his co- 
officials presented him with an illuminated 

address. It is not too much to say that Primitive Methodism in North-west 
Shropshire owes much of its present position, and possibly its very existence, 
to Mr. Parry's continued devotion and sagacity. A few years after he joined 
the community a disruption of a most threatening character took place in 
the Oswestry society ; nearly all the original members left us, and the heavily 
burdened chapel was being offered for sale. At this supreme crisis in our local 
history, Mr. Parry came forward, consulted solicitors, undertook responsibilities, 
obtained new trustees, raised fresh loans ; in short, saved the property to the 
Connexion, and the young cause from ruin. As far back as 1832 he missioned 
Maesbrook ; Morton and West Felton were also opened by him, and at each of 
these places we have still progressive societies. He six times represented the 
Tunstall District in Conference, and was delegate from the Oswestry Circuit to 
District meeting the same number of times."* 

Mr. Parrydied in 1894 in the 
eighty-seventh year of his age, 
and was interred in the grave- 
yard attached to the Knockin 
Heath Chapel, which represents 
the oldest interest in the 
present Llanymynech Circuit. 
His eldest fon is an official of 
long standing and the present 
Steward of Ellesmere Circuit. 

Eeference is made in the 
above quotation to the mission- 
ing of Maesbrook in 1832. 
Services were at first held in an 
old farmhouse in the hamlet 


of Llwynygo, i.e., the Cuckoo s 
Grove, which forms part of the Maesbrook Wood estate. One of the earliest converts 

* Memoir in the Aldersgate, 1895. 


was Mrs. Ward, the widow of the late owner of the estate, who was married to 
Mr. Edward Parry. Her only son, Samuel, attended the services in the farmhouse 
and in 1841, when only eighteen years of age, became an exhorter. He celebrated the 
attainment of his majority by giving a site for the building of 
a Primitive Methodist chapel fronting the avenue to his own house. 
Mr. Ward was a well-read man and became a popular local preacher, 
and also took an active interest in connexional movements. 
His patrimonial home, known as " The Wood " comfortable, old- 
fashioned, picturesque came to be as well known to the Primitive 
Methodists in the West, as Bavington Hall had been known to 
Primitive Methodists of the North. Leading ministers and 
laymen constantly found their way to this hospitable homestead. 
In the days of the undivided Oswestry Circuit, it was the custom 
for one Quarterly Meeting of the year to be held at Maesbrook, 


in an upper room of one of the farm-buildings ; and when we 
are told that the 'squire and his lady cheerfully dispensed hospitality to some two 
hundred circuit officials at these times, we get a striking illustration of that period in our 

history which we have called the period of circuit predominance and enterprise. The 
Oswestry Circuit Quarterly Meeting was a more important gathering, so far as numbers 
went, than the Conferences of the same period. The fact, true of that day but true 
no longer, sharply contrasts the past with the present. Mr. Ward's useful life came to 

T 2 








a close in 1896, and he, too, lies in Knockin Heath Chapel graveyard. It is pleasing 
to know that the interest Primitive Methodists feel in regard to The Wood does not 
all belong to the past as in the case of Bavington Hall, but that its present owner, 
Mr. T. Ward Green, is carrying forward the 
old traditions, and is his uncle's successor 
in the stewardship of the Llanymynech 

Besides Mr. E. Parry and S. Ward, J. 
Grindley of Knockin Heath, and Stephen 
Batho and R. Mansell were faithful adherents 
of the cause in the time of crisis in the 
Oswestry Circuit already referred to. Stephen 
Batho, who died in 1879, was a local preacher 
forty-five years. Richard Mansell was con- 
verted at Haughton in the Ellesmere Circuit 
in 1834, was a most acceptable local preacher for sixty years, and for a considerable 
time the Steward of the Oswestry Circuit. 

It is noticeable that women were as actively associated with the beginnings of our 
Church in North-west Shropshire as they were elsewhere. Thus it was in the 'Twenties 
at Knockin Heath, where the three daughters of a large farmer in the neighbourhood 
of Ellesmere, named Bickley, greatly stimulated the cause. So also at Rhosymedre 
and the district around. Mary Owens said to have belonged to the family of 
Admiral Rodney was for many years an active worker and altogether a remarkable 
woman. Married to Richard Williams, himself a local preacher, 
she and her husband were associated in usefulness. In 1827 
they took a house and introduced Primitive Methodism into 
Rhosymedre, and subsequently assisted to do the same at Black 
Park. R. Williams was also leader of a class at Ruabon for 
sixteen years. During the forty years Mary Williams was a local 
preacher she missioned much in Shropshire and the bordering 
counties, and even found her way to London in 1847 to assist 
John Ride in his evangelistic work. 

In the Magazine we have an account of the opening of the first 
chapel at Rhosymedre in 1833; a larger one was built in 1842. 
When the latter, through depression of trade and removals, was 
brought into financial straits, Mary Williams got leave to beg through the then extensive 
circuit in order to raise the sum required for arrears of interest and save the chapel 
and she succeeded in her object. The late John Evans did much to consolidate the 
cause at Rhosymedre, and Henry Lloyd that of Black Park. 

In its Jubilee year 1873, Oswestry Circuit was still undivided, having 900 members 
and 121 local preachers. Soon after, its partition began by the making of Rhosymedre, 
1877 ; Llanymynech, 1878 ; and Ellesmere Circuit, 1895. 

* For Mr. S. Ward, see an interesting article in the Aldersgate Magazine for 1897 " A Shrop- 
shire Village Yeoman," by Rev. A. A. Birchenough. 





88. * BRINKWORTH,!'] 825. 

93. HAVERFORDWEST, 1828. 98. STROUD, 1830. 

^^ S. West 

J. Gregory J. Horsman 

W. Strongman j 

M. Bugden 

f~ J. Baker 

8. Turner ; 


94. MOTCOMB, 1828. " SALISBURY, 1831. 

&l y 

J. Blackmore 
W. Wigley 

R. Davies 
W. Langley 

J. Preston 
A. Woodward 

W - Ya PP 100. SHEFFORD, 1832. 

89. BLAENAVON, 1826. 

J. Hide 

J. Hibbs 

95. REDRUTH, 1828. 

H. Haves 

H. Higginson 

W. Driffield 

G. Wall is 
E. Bishop 

J. Richards 

G. Price 

90. WITNEY, 1826. 

S. Wilshaw J. Coxhead 

G. Appleby 
E. Lowe 

96. ST. AUSTELL, 1829. 

W. Wiltshire 
J. Rumming 
T. Jackson 

E. Wheeldon 

91. FROME, 1827. 

T. Ford 

M. Moor 

R. Tuffin 

A. Goodwin 

J. Prince 

B. Tripp S. Wheeler 

W. Turner 

J. Clark 

J. Guy 

J. Noot 101. MORKTOX, 1833. 

S. Price 

One to be obtained j Morish 

92. PILLAWELL, 1827. 

102. ST. IVES, 1833. 

97. BATH, 1829. 

J. Morton 

H. Pope 

F. E. Broom 

E. Foizey 

T. Meredith 


T will conduce to clearness if, in this chapter, we confine ourselves to giving 
in outline a sketch of those evangelistic efforts of certain circuits, the 
combined result of which is seen in the Brinkworth District formed in 
1833. That result is set forth above in the transcript of the stations 
of the Brinkworth District as they first appeared in the Conference Minutes ; the 
only alteration made being the insertion of the year when each circuit was formed, in 
place of the letters L.D. or T.P. D. of the original draft letters which have now lost 
their interest for us. Several distinct lines of agency converged in the making 
of Brinkworth District. First, in order of time, came Tunstall and Scotter's 



joint " Western Mission " which, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, reached Frome and 
Bath m Somerset, Motcombe in Dorset, and Salisbury in South Wilts. Second, 
Oakengates' missions to the Forest of Dean and Hereford, and to Blaenavon in 
South Wales. Third, Shrewsbury's mission to Brinkworth in Wilts, and thence to 
Shefford or Xewbury in Berks. Fourth, Hull's mission in Cornwall represented by 
St. Austell and St. Ives. Lastly, we have Haverfordwest in the Welsh Peninsula, 
as the solitary outcome of the agency of the abortive Missionary Committee of 1825. 
Brinkworth District's fifteen stations of 1833 had, by 1842, become thirty, with 
fifteen branches and missions. Taking these lines of agency in their order, we have 
first, then : 


In 1823 Tunstall and Scotter jointly undertook a mission to the West of England. 
It almost looks as though this enterprise was regarded at the time as one of the 
weightiest the Connexion had as yet entered upon. Tunstall appointed its own special 

committee of management, and hoped 
that Scotter would do the same : 
other circuits were also asked to co- 
operate. If we may regard this as an 
early attempt to establish a General 
Missionary Committee, it wasdestined 
to be unsuccessful. The circuits did 
co-operate, but each co-operated in its 
own way. James Bonsor was chosen 
to be the leading missionary. When 
last we saw him he was at Oaken- 
gates and Shrewsbury. After his 
imprisonment at Shrewsbury he fell 
again into the hands of the police at 
Bridgnorth, and spent a night in 
prison. Next morning three proposals 

were made to him from which to choose : to promise that neither he nor his colleagues 
would preach any more in the streets of Bridgnorth ; to find bail for his appearance 
at the Sessions ; or to be sent to Shrewsbury jail. " Then," said Bonsor, " I will go to 
Shrewsbury ; for I was there a few months ago and they used me extremely well. 
They brought me eight breakfasts to prison one morning, and promised that they 
would use me well if I came again." Plainly, nothing could be made of such a man, 
so, after straitly charging him not to preach in the streets again, the bailiffs dismissed 
him in a friendly way, shaking him by the hand, and promising to protect him against 
persecution when preaching in licensed houses. And, when, soon after, three of the 
worst persecutors were brought before them, they made good their promise. 

This was in November, 1822, just before Oakengates was made a circuit. In 1823 
Bonsor is Tunstall's leading preacher, and on June 7th he set out on his mission, calling 
at Worcester and Tewkesbury on his way. At the latter place he was once more arrested 
for preaching in the open air. He was asked to find bail but refused, and as the 




Dissenting ministers of Tewkesbury very handsomely spoke up in the court on his 
behalf, and public opinion was on his side, Bonsor was, after much discussion, liberated. 
He visited also some of the villages round Gloucester, but no permanent societies were 
formed either at Tewkesbury or Gloucester at this time. His objective was the cloth- 
manufacturing district of the county, and here he met with an encouraging degree of 
success. At Stroud, tradition says, he preached at The Cross, and at the close asked the 
crowd if he should come again, to which the response was a hearty " Yes." At many 
villages in the Stroud-water valley and among the pleasant Cotswold Hills societies were 
established. A chapel was built at Chalford, in the Golden Valley, as early as 1823, 
and the theatre at Stroud was fitted up as a place of worship a conversion which led 


the people jubilantly to sing : " Praise the Lord ! the case is altered, now this house 
belongs to the Lord." 

In 1824 there were five preachers on the Western Mission; three years later the 
direction of that Mission had passed from Staffordshire to Somerset. We can see what 
happened when we turn to the Conference stations for those years. In 1825, Tunstall 
has eleven preachers; in 1826, seven; in 1827, but two. First, Stroud Branch was 
detached from Tunstall and joined to the adjoining Brinkworth Circuit, on its formation 
in 1826. Owing to slackness of trade and the poverty of the people, Stroud still 
needed financial support and oversight, which Briukworth was ready to supply. In 1826, 
James Bonsor's name disappears from the roll of preachers. There is reason to believe 


that he had been closely connected with Stroud and district to the last, and hence his 
retirement from the Connexion would tend to accentuate the temporary difficulties of 
the Stroud Branch. In 1830, Stroud became an independent but numerically feeble 
circuit, with 101 members, thirteen local preachers, and one chapel. It was never to 
be its lot to become a great missionary circuit like its powerful neighbour, Brinkworth. 
In fact, the Stroud-water valley was an eddy of the particular stream of evangelization 
which the Western Mission originated. The main volume of the stream rolled on. 
FKOME Circuit, formed in 1827, with J. Ride, T. Haslam, and S. Spittle as its preachers, 
shows the course taken, and the point reached, up to that time. We find W. Paddison, 
in 1826, holding camp meetings at Clandown and Nunney, and missioning various 
places between Frome and Bristol in the vicinity of Wells. Bristol itself was visited, 
and a small society formed which, however, soon became extinct, so that a more 
vigorous and sustained attack had to be made on Bristol a few years later. In Bath, 
the famous city of pleasure, greater success was gained; in 1828, W. Towler was 
appointed to labour in the city and its immediate neighbourhood. Frome's mission 
to Glastonbury in 1843, which afterwards extended to Bridge water, belongs to a much 
later period. Frome's main missionary efforts lay in another direction at the time of 
which we write. The line of advance went obliquely forward into Dorset, and on to 
the sea-coast. Trowbridge, in Wilts, was visited, and Enmore Green and Motcombe, 
and other places round Shaftesbury, in Dorset, were successfully missioned. MOTCOMBE? 
made a circuit in 1828, played an important role in the evangelization of large portions 
of some of the Southern counties. One of its missionaries seems to have been the 
first Primitive Methodist to preach in Hampshire this was under a tree at Breamore 
in 1830 and also first in the city of Winchester. But the circuit was not strong 
enough to sustain the required mission, and the duty was afterwards undertaken by 
Shefford Circuit. Salisbury, and some of the villages around, were visited by Motcombe 
preachers as early as 1827. Regular preaching services were established in the city, and 
since 1831, when SALISBURY was made a circuit, it has had a progressive history, which 
may be said to have culminated in 1893 (when Salisbury shared with Southampton 
the distinction of giving its name to the Salisbury and Southampton District) ; and the 
neighbouring circuits of Wilton and Woodfalls are its offshoots. But Motoombe's most 
distinctive work has been done in Dorset ; in the towns and villages of that Wessex 
whose physical features and people have been illuminated by the genius of Thomas Hardy. 
In 1833, Motcombe penetrated deeper into this interesting district reaching Blandford 
on the Stour Thomas Hardy's "Shottsford Forum." How this was done Richard Davies 
tells us. In 1831 he says 

" From Frome we removed to the Motcombe station, and resided at Enmore 
Green, Shaftesbury. Two rooms were rented for our accommodation, very scantily 
furnished, owing to the poverty of the station. Its funds were insufficient for 
the salaries of a married man and a single one, and to remedy this state of things 
the Quarterly Meeting resolved to employ a third preacher and to set me at 
liberty to mission some villages and towns which lay round about us, some 
near and some a long way off. Several new societies were formed and added 
to the circuit, and worked afterwards by the three preachers alternately ; and 


by this means the funds were augmented and the station relieved of debt." 

(MS. Autobiography.} 

Blandford Branch, comprising such villages as Durweston, Stickland, etc., was the 
outcome of this mission. Soon the old seaport town of Poole, situated on its sp iciims 
harbour, was reached, and adjoining villages evangeli/ed ; and when, in 1838, POOLE 
became a circuit, it joined hands with the Weymouth and Dorchester Mission, already 
referred to. As for fashionable, far-stretching Bournemouth, it was not yet thought 
of. Where it now stands was then but a heath, scored with chines running down to 
the sea, and covered with odorous pines. Its astonishing development belongs to a later 
period. We have only to add that, in 1842, Motcombe had the Sherborne Branch 
and Stoke Mission under its charge, and that Blandford was made a circuit in 1880. 

From this sketch of the Western Mission it will be seen that, from start to finish, 
that Mission gave some six circuits to the Bristol, and seven to the Salisbury and 
Southampton Districts. There is not one of these circuits which may not feel itself 
to be historically linked to the powerful but distant Tunstall and Scotter Circuits, 
inasmuch as it has been directly or indirectly the beneficiary of the Western Mission. 


Blaenavon, Cwm, and Pillawell, which came on the stations severally in 1825, '26, 
and '27, form a group of circuits that were the direct or indirect outcome of Oakengates 
Circuit's early missionary labours. The facts as to the origin of these three circuits show 
that the tracts of country they named, though each had its distinctive physical and 
industrial features, were so geographically contiguous as to be within the walking 
powers of the missionary. They were visited in succession by the same pioneer, and 
came on the stations one after the other, in the same order in which they were visited. 
Ever since their formation these three circuits have had a continuous history, and that 
history, important as it is, may be compressed into the statement of the capital fact 
that from them the whole of the present South Wales District, including <dso the 
missions within its area, has sprung. When, in 1888, the South Wales District was 
formed, it might almost seem as though the principle determining the grouping had 
been, to include in the new District none but those stations which derived from 
Oakengates through Blaenavon, Cwm, or Pillawell. Of course, no such idea would 
influence the minds of those who were responsible for the division made, yet the 
coincidence of the arrangement with the actual course of development is striking. 


The Black Mountains that rise frowningly from the valley of the Usk in Brecknock, 
and southward sink down slopingly through West Monmouth, Glamorgan, and part 
of Carmarthen, form the great South Wales coal-field, covering the hill-sides for a 
distance of 900 square miles rich, too, in iron and copper. All this mineral wealth 
has not only made the hill-country a populous hive of industry, but accounts for the 
remarkable development of the Bristol Channel ports of Xewport, Cardiff, and Swansea. 
Blaenavon is on the north-eastern edge of this district, where the hill-country of 
Monmouth rises from the valley of the Usk, which river has bent round to pass 


through Monmouthshire to find its debouchure in the estuary of the Severn. It 
Avas this district which was the scene of the Chartist rising of 1839 when, on 
a stormy November night, the miners and iron-workers poured down from the hills 
into Newport and came in conflict with the military. Some twenty persons lost their 
lives, and Frost, and two other leaders of the abortive rising, were sentenced to be 
" hanged, drawn, and quartered," though the sentence was afterwards commuted to 
fourteen years' penal servitude. 

When Oakengates sent a missionary to Blaenavon it was like succouring like one 
coal and iron district lending a helping hand to another. The missionary selected was 
James Roles, whom we saw making his entry into Liverpool pelted with mud. He 
found his way to Blaenavon just about the time James Bonsor was beginning the 
A\ r estern Mission. Writing on August 10th, 1823, he reports that he has already 
preached at seven distinct places, and gathered seventy in church fellowship, of whom 
forty were in Blaenavon. Another missionary has been sent to assist him, and 
applications for their services are constantly being received from various quarters. The 
first chapel in South Wales is said to have been built at Beaufort about this time. 


The reader should be advertised that he will not find Cwm in any gazetteer or on 
any ordinary map. It is not even a hamlet, much less a considerable village or town. 
It is only the name of a small estate with its farmhouse and flour-mill attached, situate 
in the parish of Cloddock, in the south-west corner of Herefordshire. The Cwm * 
lies under the mountains which rise just within the Welsh border and are called the 
Black Mountains, from the dark heath with which they are covered. To get here 
from Blaenavon was no difficult matter. No mountainous barrier intervenes between 
Herefordshire and central Monmouthshire, as a glance at the map will show. But 
what the particular reasons were which brought James Roles, or other missionary, into 
this secluded corner are not stated and, however easy, it is useless to conjecture what 
those reasons were. What is clear is that the missionary from Blaenavon found his 
way here in the early part of 1824, and met with hospitable entertainment at the 
Cwm, where Mrs. Phillips resided on her own property with her sons and daughters. 
Henry, one of the sons, entered the ministry in 1846, and rose to be President of the 
Conference of 1878. One of the daughters, too, joined the society established at the 
Cwm in 1824, and in 1830 was married to W. Towler, one of the earliest missionaries 
in these parts, and who attained to a position of considerable influence in the Connexion. 
There were other families of good standing in the neighbourhood who identified them- 
selves with the cause, such as Messrs. J. and W. Gilbert. At the adjoining village 
of Longtown there had been a Methodist cause, but it had become extinct, so that the 
advent of Primitive Methodism to the neighbourhood was opportune and welcome. 
In 1825, Thomas Proctor entered upon his all too brief but successful ministry by 
being appointed to the newly-formed Blaenavon Circuit, and was at once sent to extend 
that circuit's mission in Herefordshire. 

* Cwm pronounced Coom, is a Welsh word signifying a dingle or small valley in a range of hills. 
The word occurs frequently in the Saxonised form of Comle. 


It may be questioned whether in the long roll of the worthies of our Church we 
have met or shall meet with a name that should more absolute!)' command our respect 
and reverence than should the name of Thomas Proctor. He was dominated by one 
supreme passion to be entirely consecrated to God in the work of the ministry. As 
far as we can see that passion was without any taint of fanaticism. We can observe 
no trace of self-seeking or self-glorification ; no eccentricities even in speech or conduct 
which jar and offend, while we readily excuse. And yet, although there was a "sanity 
in his faith and a sweetness in his disposition " which told powerfully upon some 
of the families of the district, like that of the Llanwarnes of The Park, who were 
brought to God under his ministry, and did much in their turn to support and 
extend the cause ; yet these were exceptions. They were outnumbered by the 
ignorant, the prejudiced, and the persecuting. Thomas Proctor had often to endure 
privations hunger and cold, and the brutal assaults of men who pelted 
him with rotten eggs and sludge and stones. All this he bore uncomplainingly. 
" When he could obtain no house for shelter, and no food for money, he frequently 
retired to the shade of some bush or tree for study and prayer, got what sustenance 
he could from the hedges, and in the evening went into some neighbouring village 
to preach in the open-air, often to endure insult and persecution in various forms." 
No wonder that Thomas Proctor succeeded ; that he laid the foundations of the 
Cwm Circuit deep and firm, or that success was won at the cost of health and life. 
For some months in 1826 W. Towler was associated with him in labour, and that 
year Cwm was made a Circuit. He laboured on until October, 1827, when he went 
to his home in Yorkshire for a short rest and change ; but it was to die. Mr. Petty 
who laboured in the Cwm Circuit in 1835, and had abundant opportunities to learn 
the character of his predecessor and the effect of his ministry, has penned a noble 
tribute to Thomas Proctor, of which we cannot forbear quoting a portion. 

" His ministerial course was short, but it was a glorious one. His talents were 
respectable, his piety profound, his conduct in all things exemplary. For deep 
humility, quenchless love for the souls of men, and intimate communion with God, 
he may be fairly classed with Brainerd, Fletcher, and Bramwell. It is affecting to 
think that a young man of his character, and of his physical strength, should have 
been brought to the grave in a little more than two years, through the hardships, 
privations, arid excessive toils he endured in Herefordshire He fell a martyr 
to his work ; but he accomplished a wondrous amount of good in a little time, 
and left a name fragrant as ointment poured forth. The remembrance of his 
excellencies will long continue in the families by whom he was entertained, and 
the report of his exalted piety will descend to their posterity.'' 

Ill 1828 a little white chapel was built at the Cwm on a site given by Mrs. Phillips. 
The modest building might almost be regarded as an annexe of the adjoining farm- 
house, where the early preachers found shelter and the comforts of a home.* Chapel 

* The farm was also the manse, as the following extract from the MS. journal of Richard Davies 
shows : " In 1828 I removed to the Cwm Circuit, in which I had no home in one sense, but] two good 
ones in another, I was all welcome to the comforts and care of two families, in particular. The 
one with Mrs, Phillips of Cwm and her two sons and three daughters, one of the happiest families 
I ever met with ; the other with Mr. Llanwarne of the Park, a very kind and hospitable family. 
Hence I had much to be thankful for." 


and farm nothing more, gave the name to, and formed the centre of, one of the most 
important circuits of Primitive Methodism in the early days. This is the outstanding 
fact challenging attention in relation to the early history of the Cwm Circuit. In 
1835, when John Petty was on the circuit, it had its home-branch, with fifty -four 
distinct preaching-places; its Bromyard Branch in East Herefordshire, and its- 
Monmouthshire Mission ; these together employing eight travelling preachers and 
having an aggregate membership of 796. Nor does this fully represent the missionary 
activity of Cwm Circuit at this time; for the Circuit Report of 1836 says: "We 
have taken up Tewkesbury and its neighbourhood as a mission " ; and we learn from 
Mr. Petty's Journal that at the June Quarterly Meeting of 1836, "an order was made 
out for employing a hired local as an additional missionary on the Monmouthshire 
mission, and to extend that mission into Brecknockshire, and as far as Brecon, the 
county town." 1 * Primitive Methodism does not seem, however, to have struck root 
either in Gloucestershire or Brecknockshire through Cwm's efforts at this time. Bromyard 
Branch, as we have seen, was afterwards taken charge of by Ludlow ; but Cwnv's 
hold on Monmouthshire was more lasting. Joseph Grieves and Thomas Llanwarne 
carried on a vigorous mission in the hilly and thinly populated district to the east 
of Abergavenny. When, as the outcome of this mission, the Rose Cottage Branch of 
Cwm Circuit was formed, we get still another example of a single house becoming the 
titular head of a station. Rose Cottage is now included in the Abergavenny mission. 
The Thomas Llanwarne just mentioned was a man remarkably successful as an evangelist. 
He belonged to a family that has done much for the extension and strengthening of the 
Cwm Circuit and its offshoot Kingstone, made a circuit in 1892. Indeed, one cannot 
but feel that, next to the devoted labours of its pioneer preachers, the healthy develop- 
ment of this rural circuit is largely attributable to the unusual number of families 
of standing and high character that from the beginning have been identified with its 
societies. Besides the Gilberts and the Llanwarnes, yet another such family was that 
of which Mr. John Gwillim was the head. In 1830 he took up his residence at the 
Wayne, and soon after he and his wife joined the society. Mrs. Gwillim was the 
daughter of Mr. Rogers, the vicar of Cloddock a man so liberal and evangelical in 
sentiment that, when he had concluded the services in the parish-church, he would 
frequently be found worshipping with the Primitives in their humble sanctuary or in, 
the open-air. John Gwillim, jun., entered our ministry in 1843; in 1856-9 he was 
superintendent of Cwm Circuit, and he died when stationed at Presteign in 1867. 
He was, we are told, " noted for hospitality and benevolence." William Gwillim was 
a well-read, intelligent, public-spirited yeoman. He began to preach in 1832 and to 
the end of his life, which extended to 1896, he rendered exceptional service to the 
Primitive Methodism of this part of Herefordshire. Mention should be made, too, 
of the Hancorns of Ploughfield, and of Mrs. Lea and her daughters of Yew Cottage 
near Madeley, who joined the Church about 1830. At her own expense Mrs. Lea- 
fitted up the " Cottage Chapel " near her own residence, as also a chapel at Shenmore. 
Of this lady (who died in 1855) and her family Mr. Petty writes: "This highly 
respectable and pious family rendered eminent service to the community in various 
* " Life and Labours of Rev. J. Petty,'' by Rev. James Macpherson, p. 287. 


ways, and greatly contributed to the establishment and increase of the societies. 
They patiently bore the sneers amd contempt of many in their own rank, cheerfully 
encountered persecution in different forms, and zealously endeavoured to spread evan- 
gelical truth and Christianity in many of the surrounding villages and hamlets." 


The Forest of Dean is " an island of the coal measures," lying between the Severn 
and the Wye. Still mindful of its fellow colliers, Oakengates sent James Roles to 
this secluded corner of Gloucestershire to seek them out, just as before it had sent 
him to Blaenavon. We find him at Pillawell in the autumn of 1824, and we may 
reasonably conjecture that he reached it from Cwm, where he had been doing pioneer 
work. We are furnished with no particulars of his experiences in opening the mission, 
but it is evident he met with a fair measure of success before moving off to Pembroke 
Dock; for in December, 1826, Pillawell was made a circuit. A "circuit" indeed it 
was, being forty miles in length and extending some miles beyond the city of Hereford, 
which was visited in August, 1826, if not before. 

From the Journals of some of the earliest preachers who travelled this circuit some 
idea may be gained of the moral condition of the people of the Forest at the time, 
and of the difficulties and privations that attended the work of the missionaries 
amongst them. For example : Richard Davies, who was here in 1827, tells us that 
there was then not a single Connexional chapel in the circuit, but that the first was 
soon afterwards built at Lydbrook. Pillawell got its chapel in 1835, at a cost of 70 ! 
He notes the long and toilsome journeys and " the lack of suitable and seasonable 
refreshments." From what befell Edward Beard of Oakengates, we can see that 
pioneering under such conditions exacted its penalties. He was one of the first 
missionaries to this district, and preached at Ross and other places in Herefordshire ; 
but, like Thomas Proctor, he was soon forced to relinquish his work and to return to 
his native circuit broken in health. 

On a certain day in 1829, Joseph Middleton, now the Pillawell preacher, walked 
fourteen miles with the snow reaching to his knees ; and yet, though the weather was 
so wintry, it was spring by the calendar, being April 3rd. " Plainly a portent ! " said 
" a certain individual near Broad Oak." " God is angry with the Ranters for using 
His name so frequently in their prayers, and so has sent this unseasonable weather 
as a punishment!" The diarist's blunt comment is: "What ignorant stuff!" But 
probably this man, with his warped and ill-furnished mind, thought he was drawing 
a pious and legitimate inference from the facts of the universe. His sapient conclusion 
was of a piece with the reasoning of those dwellers under the Black Mountain who 
counted Thomas Proctor and his followers as the false prophets who were to rise in 
the latter days, with whom therefore it was a self-denying virtue to have no manner 
of dealings, not even monetary ones. From boycotting the " false prophets " to stoning 
them was but a short step. 

If this was how the Revival and its agents were conceived of by some in 1829, 
there were others who, with or without theorising, set their faces against it. It was 
so at Newnham on Severn a town which for many years had been as notorious as 


Bishops Castle for the bitterness of its opposition to religion as evangelically presented. 
Nevertheless, Samuel Morgan and Richard Morris, two local preachers, had the temerity 
to attempt a service in the streets of Newnham on August 2nd, 1829. "They had 
not unfurled the banner of the Cross more than a quarter of an hour when two 
constables came up, and without any authority from a magistrate put the hand-cuffs 
on Mr. Morgan and led him, with Mr. Morris, to the stocks, in which they confined 
them three hours and a quarter." But though their feet were fast in the stocks, their 

tongues were free : " they 
faithfully warned the people 
standing round, and like the 
Apostles they prayed and sang 
praises unto God."* 

On another day, we see 
William Leaker, the superin- 
tendent, spending the whole of 
the day on his knees in the 
Forest of Dean, wrestling with 
God on behalf of the distressed 
condition of the Pillawell 
society. It was March 21st, 
1832, the day appointed by 
authority as a day of humilia- 
tion, fasting, and prayer on 
account of the ravages of the 
cholera in the land. As Mr. 
Leaker rose from his knees to 
go to his evening's appointment 
he rejoiced in the assurance 
of victory. The national fast- 
day was the day-dawn to the 
Pillawell Circuit which, "from 
that time, became an important 
and interesting field for Primi- 
tive Methodist enterprise and 

These excerpts from the old 
Journals throw their flash-lights on the early history of what has now come to 
be the Pillawell, Hereford, Monmouth, Lydbrook, and Lydney Circuits of the South 
Wales District. Primitive Methodism did not win a place and position in Hereford 
without" a struggle. Indeed, for a number of years, it would be truer to say that 
it had to fight for its existence, rather than that it flourished. It was eighteen 

* Rev. Joseph Middleton's MS. Journal. 

f " Life and Labours of Rev. Wm. Leaker," p. 33. We have also in this connection quoted 
from the MS. Autobiographic Memoranda of Rev. R. Davies. 




years before Hereford became the head of a circuit. The society, numerically feeble, 
had to do its best to grow in a niggardly soil and in the cold shade of opposition, 
such as often rests on Dissent in cathedral cities. During this time there was much 
adverse sentiment to face, and frequently the roughs took advantage of it to annoy 
the worshippers at their camp meetings, and even in their own rented room in Union 
Street. But, at last, persecution was undone by its own act, and better times carne. 
On August 26th, 1833, when Mr. J. Morton, the superintendent, was holding an open- 
air service at the Friars', in the neighbourhood of Quaker Lane, he was arrested by 
the direct orders of an irascible magistrate. Mr. E. Pritchard, attorney and Congre- 
gationalist, generously undertook to plead Mr. Morgan's cause before the mayor and 

magistrates on the following 
day; while Mr. Morgan, by his 
firm though respectful attitude 
made a powerful impression 
on the crowded court. Messrs. 
Pritchard and Yapp stood bail, 
but when the Sessions came no 
" true bill" was found against 
the street-preacher ; and, after 
this, street preachings were un- 
molested, and public sentiment 
became much more favourable. 
The Circuit Report of 1836 
speaks of the prosperity of 
Hereford. "The room is now 
generally crowded ; there are 
now eighty members, whereas 
in 1829 there had been but 
twenty-two." Persecution is 
spoken of in the past tense : 
" At Hereford our people have 
been persecuted, and on various 
occasions life has been in danger. 
Several attempts have been 
made to obtain redress but we could not succeed, because many of the higher powers 
were utterly opposed to our cause. But now som'e of the respectable inhabitants are 
favourable towards us, and use their authority for our benefit, and some of our most 
violent persecutors are gone the way of all flesh, some are transported, and some 
converted to God." In June, 1838, a chapel was opened in the city, and in 1840 
Hereford became the head of a new circuit with two travelling preachers and 220 
members. The present beautiful church in St. Owen's Street was erected in 1880 at 
a cost of 3561, and yet within twelve months after its opening the building was 
out of debt. It has seatage for six hundred people, and the schoolroom behind 
has accommodation for three hundred scholars. 




MR. T. DAVIKS, J.l> 


The name of Mr. T. Davies, J.P., will always be associated with the building of 
St. Owen Street church, as well as with the early struggles of Primitive Methodism 
to secure a position in the city of Hereford. Converted about 1830 he removed to 
Hereford, and from that time to his death in 1893 he stood by the cause. In 
his case physical strength was mated with 
a resolute will. These qualities had their use in 
the early days of persecution. The sight of his 
stalwart figure among the little company acted 
as a wholesome restraint on the roughest of the 
crowd, some of whom knew the power of his 
grip. Mr. Davies was a builder, and prospered 
in business. That, too, was of advantage to the 
Church. To the building fund of St. Owen's he 
gave 200 and Mrs. Davies 25. By acting as 
architect and superintending the erection, and 
in various other ways, he is said to have saved 
the trustees quite, another 200. The confidence of the Connexion in him was 
expressed by his being appointed the first Treasurer of the African Missionary Fund. 
He was a local preacher of considerable ability, and was the first Circuit Steward 
elected in the Hereford Circuit, and he held that office until his death. He was 
highly esteemed by his fellow-citizens, and for many years held the position of 
town councillor and justice of the peace. His good wife was " a help meet for him." 
Her sympathies were with the poor and suffering. These were her clients, for whose 
sake she gave gifts and made personal sacrifices. 

The present Steward of the Hereford Circuit is Mr. T. A. King, whose career offers 
another example of the success which so often crowns persistent effort. By success 
we do not mean that which is measured by mere material wealth : that is common and 
cheap. By success we mean the fruition the return into the man's own personality 
of his endeavours after self-improvement ; the development of special gifts and faculties, 
or the acquisition of knowledge. In Mr. King's case irrepressible instinct has made 
him become a craftsman of so superior a kind that his work need 
not fear comparison with that of the acknowledged artist. This 
instinct for giving expression to what the eye saw or the mind 
conceived awoke early, and not amid circumstances that might 
seem likely to foster it. As a lad of seventeen he worked for 
some months in the yard of a monumental mason, his employ- 
ment being to clean and prepare the surface of the gravestones. 
But he rose step by step. He sought to supply the defects of 
a somewhat meagre education, and to become more deft of 
hand in carving, modelling, etc., until he has made for himself 
a name and a position as a sculptor. Those who have seen the 
busts of Revs. C. T. Harris and J. Odell done by his chisel, will hardly have been able 
to stifle the wish that he may yet live to give us the "counterfeit presentments" 
in marble of the founders of that Church to which Mr. King by birth and life-long 
attachment belongs. u 

MR. T. A. KIM;. 


Monmouth, another county- town, was missioned in the early part of 1835, under 
favourable conditions. Mr. Bell, supervisor, who had been a local preacher at 
Louth, gave a hearty welcome to his co-religionists, and by his zealous labours and 
liberality greatly assisted in establishing and strengthening the Monmouth society 
which, by March, 1836, numbered forty members. After the separation of Hereford 
from Pillawell, Monmouth became the residence of the superintendent. In 1869 we 
find "Monmouth and Lydbrook Circuit," and in 1891 each of these towns became the 
head of a station, as in 1880 Lydney already had become. 


Once more, and finally, we follow the stirring James Roles this time to Pembroke- 
shire, where he had gone, probably at the beginning of 1825, to establish a mission as 
the agent of Oakengates Circuit. Becoming somewhat embarrassed, Oakengates offered 
its mission in the Finisterre of Wales to the General Missionary Committee which had 
been appointed by the Conference of 1825. The offer was accepted, and in November 
of the same year, James Roles sent a 'roseate report of the prospects of the mission to 
the Committee. Twelve places had been opened, and ten or a dozen other places 
wished to have preaching established at them, etc. The same sanguine note is clearly 
perceptible in the Secretary's endorsement of the report : " This letter," writes Hugh 
Bourne, " contains an account of the first-fruits of the labours of the General Missionary 
Committee of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. The opening of their missionary 
labours the Lord has thus crowned with success." At the bottom of the stations of 
1826 we still have, "Pembroke Mission: J. Roles"; but, even before the words were 
printed, the fair prospects had been dashed and the mission become like a wilted 
flower. It was even in contemplation to withdraw the preachers and relinquish the 
mission but, ultimately, it was decided to continue one man on the ground and see 
what could be done. A youth between eighteen and nineteen years of age was selected 
to go to a station which was "in a manner a complete wreck." When John Petty, for 
it was he, appeared before the Committee composed of men with whom we are already 
familiar Hugh and James Bourne, James and Thomas Steele, James Nixon, John 
Hancock, C. J. Abraham, John Andrew (sen. and jun.), W. Barker, and Joseph Bourne 
his youthful appearance excited grave misgivings. But James Bourne had full confidence 
in the young man, and he was sent to Haverfordwest, arriving on July 26th, 1826. 
He found two local preachers, eleven members, and one on trial ! 

The moving story of John Petty 's two years' labours in Pembrokeshire deserves to 
be placed side by side with that of Thomas Proctor in Herefordshire. He, too, had 
his full share of long journeys, toils, and privations ; and, though he did not suffer 
so much direct persecution, yet, when we remember his youth and the comparative 
isolation and loneliness of his lot, from which he would not escape even when the 
chance was afforded him, we are presented with an example of moral heroism which 
cannot fail to be inspiring to those, especially, whose situation at all resembles his in 
that they are striplings called to " endure hardness " that might tax seasoned veterans, 
and yet who have to endure it alone. It is this aspect of the young missionary's 
Pembrokeshire labours which is new to us and which we would fasten upon. We have 
had, and shall have again in plenty, instances of missionaries " roughing it " and, so- 


to speak, " fighting with beasts at Ephesus " ; but the sight of a mere youth in his 
teens treading his own special winepress alone, and coming out at the end of the 
ordeal, chastened, strengthened, and victorious, is a picture of our own early times 
that has its own distinctive quality and value. In Pembrokeshire John Petty had 
no colleague, few fellow-labourers, and not many congenial friends. The moral ground 
was sterile, and the progress made for a time almost inappreciably slow ; yet, when in 
January, 1827, the General Missionary Committee declared it had no funds, that the 
mission must no longer look to it for support, and had better give up its preacher, use 
the mission's money to pay the rents of the rooms, and hope ere long to be received 
as a branch by Cwm or Blaenavon Circuit, the youth who was more than three hundred 
miles from home and friends, instead of welcoming the prospect of gaining a more 
congenial sphere, pleaded to be allowed to remain on the mission at his own risk until 
Conference : nay, to be permitted to remain a year beyond that Conference if there 
were no guarantee that in 1827 a preacher should step into his place. His plea was 
heard. He was allowed to stay with his own poor people ; to sink or swim, as the case 
might be. And he did stay until 1828, and did not sink, or the mission either. Credit 
must be given to the impecunious Committee that it let John Petty have his way, and 
afterwards handsomely acknowledged that " he had fully brought up the work," and 
"that his being appointed to Haverfordwest had made him expert in the office of 
superintendent."* The truth is, the time to establish a central or general Missionary 
Committee had not come, and the attempt made, being premature, was comparatively 
fruitless. What the "first-fruits" were we have seen; and, though certain circuits 
might be subsidised, yet the first General Missionary Committee has left no distinctive 
mark on our history. In 1828 John Petty left for Brinkworth where we shall soon 
follow him and Haverfordwest was declared a circuit. 

This narrative will have shown that Haverfordwest (now Pembroke Dock) can claim 
to be the Connexion's premier mission station. It has passed through many vicissitudes 
but it is a mission station still. It was a circuit until 1836 when, presumably, it was 
taken under the wing of Blaenavon or Swansea. Some few years after, it took circuit- 
rank again, but only to be received in 1851 by the General Missionary Committee. 
It must be admitted that in the county of Pembroke the Connexion has lost ground ; 
that fewer places are preached at in 1905 than in 1828 ; that chapels have been lost, 
and Haverfordwest itself has been abandoned. Our business is to record facts rather 
than to express opinions ; but it does seem that, so far as the Peninsula of Wales is 
concerned, the Connexion ought either to have attempted less than it has attempted 
or, what would have been better still, that it should have attempted much more. 
Either it should have relinquished the Peninsula altogether, or have made a vigorous 
effort to establish a chain of missions from Swansea to Milford, including Carmarthen, 
Llanelly, and Tenby. 


For some years Blaenavon was the only circuit in the Southern part of the 
Principality, and it may fairly be regarded as the "procreant cradle" of the South 

* The Committee's Letter is given in Vol. i. p. 344. U 2 



Wales District. When Cwm was parted with, its work lay chiefly among the hills 
and valleys of Monmouthshire. With the possible exception of Newport, it had 
not yet found its way to the sea-coast, to the growing towns at the mouths of the 
rivers that were the ports of shipment for the vast mineral wealth of the mountainous 
hinterland. But in 1834 it turned its attention to Swansea. At the beginning of that 
year, in response to an application for a missionary, Joseph Hibbs, the superintendent, 
went down to Swansea to prospect, and found " a great part of the town much neglected 
for want of open-air preaching and family visiting." Reporting to his Committee on 
his return, Henry Higginson was instructed to open a mission at Swansea. He had 
entered the ministry in 1833, just after having given proof of his fitness for the work 
by his remarkable labours in Darlaston Circuit during the visitation of cholera, so that 
Blaenavon was his first station. He walked all the way to Swansea, arriving there on 
the third day, and was kindly received by Captain Alder, whose wife had been a 
member of the South Shields society. , He began his labours on March 16th, 1834, 
by preaching on the Pier Head where, as he reports, " the nobility and gentry are 
often seen promenading." Some had told him "they thought the back streets would be 
best. I said, I had been there long enough. I would try Avhat the front would do." 
Henry Higginson was not the man to take a back street or seat if a front one was 
accessible. He was but two months in Swansea and its neighbourhood, but in that 
time he seems to have made a considerable impression by dint of hard work and 
a striking personality. He was tall ; of commanding appearance ; with a good address. 
He had received an education above the average, and yet that educational superiority 
formed no barrier to his mingling freely and unaffectedly with the people. Moreover, 
there was a dash of originality and even eccentricity about him which in itself was 
taking; and as this became even more strongly marked as he grew older, it is no 
wonder that tradition to which a striking personality dashed with eccentricity always 

appeals still loves to talk of his doings and sayings. The 
young missionary seems to have been treated with respect 
and kindness by all and sundry. He had sometimes 
a thousand people at his services on the Pier. " All 
denominations nocked to hear him." During his two 
months' mission he visited the Mumbles, Merton, Llanmad- 
dock, and other places, and left 44 members, thirty of 
them being at Swansea and ten at the Mumbles. 
The superintendent, Joseph Hibbs, now took his col- 
league's place and carried on the work, spending much 
labour upon family visitation, which, he observes, was 
something new in Swansea. He, too, was generally 
cordially received, though he met with a cold reception at 
Xeath and found it "a hard place." On July 6th, 
a room, capable of seating 300 people, was opened by 
E. Foizey of Bath, and J. Prosser of Presteign. Swansea 
soon became a Circuit (1835), and Joseph Hibbs was its first superintendent. In 
1836 chapels were erected at Swansea and Llanmaddock, the one at Swansea serving 





until 1860, by which time it had evidently come to be considered as behind the times; 
for in the Magazine report of the chapel opening, George Dobson quaintly remarks 
of the old chapel : " The up-tendencies of the times and the lowering sanitary changes 
occurring in and around its immediate locality, will not admit the application 
of the Scripture precedent and commendation 'Beautiful for 
situation,' etc." 

Progress in this rapidly developing district was marked by the 
formation in 1841 of the Tredegar Circuit from Blaenavon or 
rather from Pontypool Circuit, as it now came to be called. This 
arrangement was tantamount to a partition of the hilly hinterland 
already referred to. In 1851 we find Tredegar Circuit still 
including, amongst other places, Merthyr and Dowlais in Glamorgan, 
Brynmawr on the borders of Breckon, as well as Rhymney, Ebbw 
Vale and Blackwood in Monmouth. Some of these places are now 
themselves the heads of circuits. 

It seems singular that Cardiff whose progress in recent years 
is said to have been the most remarkable of any town in the kingdom was not seriously 
attempted by the Connexion until 1857, when it was missioned by Pontypool Circuit 
again under the superintendency of Joseph Hibbs. Afterwards Cardiff came under the 
care of the General Missionary Committee and, in 1879, it was made a circuit. Newport 
with Caerleon and Kisca had already, in 1872, been detached from Pontypool to form 
a new circuit. During the superintendency of P. Maddocks, Canton and Mount 
Tabor chapels were erected, now the heads, respectively, of Cardiff First and Second. 
Alderman Joseph Ramsdale, J.P., the Steward of Cardiff Second has, ever since he 
came to the town in 1870, rendered eminent service to Primitive Methodism in the 
town and district. Here also resides Rev. J. P. Bellingham, who entered the ministry in 
1852 and retired in 1904. Mr. Bellingham merits record here, not merely because 
of his long and fruitful ministry, but also because of the interest he has taken in 
scientific questions in their bearing on Christianity, and because his pen has been 
freely used in the service of our Connexional literature. In 1904 Mr. Bellingham 
was appointed a permanent member of Conference. 

. In 1885 Aberavon and Briton Ferry were taken from Swansea and 
formed into a mission-station. Abergavenny, too, formerly a branch 
of Pontypool, has also become a mission station. But there has 
been loss as well as gain in South Wales. Carmarthen was made 
a circuit, with Joseph Hibbs as its superintendent, in 1839, and 
in 1842 we had a chapel there and 143 members. In 1851 we 
had connexionally ceased to be, and now we have no foothold 
whatever in the county of Carmarthen, and Pembroke Dock Mission 
is our solitary outpost in the peninsula of West Wales. 

It will have been notic<d how frequently the name of Joseph 
Hibbs has recurred in writing of South Wales. His ministry was 
largely bound up with South Wales, and the course of that ministry 
singularly followed the lines of its connexional development. Appropriately enough, 




he began his labours irT'Oakengates (Wrockvvardine Wood) Circuit. The next 
four years he spent in Blaenavon ; the following four in Swansea ; and then three 
more were spent in Carmarthen. After this he had two other terms of service 
in Pontypool and one in Tredegar. As we have seen, he had much to do with the 
missioning of Swansea, of Carmarthen, and Cardiff. With the exception of a term 
in Truro and another in Bristol, the whole of his forty years' 
ministry was spent in Blaenavon, or in circuits that grew out of 
it, largely under his direction. No wonder that Joseph Hibbs 
was spoken of as " The Bishop of South Wales." 

In turning from Blaenavon or Pontypool we give portraits 
of Isaac Prosser and Alderman Henry Parfitt, J.P. The former 
joined the society at Blaenavon about 1857, and as Class-leader, 
Circuit Steward, Trust Treasurer, etc., rendered inestimable service 
to the society especially in its time of trial and adversity. He 
was an overman in the mine, and met his death by the fall 
of a mass of rock, September 27th, 1898. Alderman Henry 
Parfitt, J.P., was a good friend and adherent of our Church in 
Pontypool a staunch Nonconformist, a keen politician, and a devoted worker for the 
public good. He also died in 1898. 




In the autumn of 1824 Samuel Heath, one of the five preachers stationed to 
Shrewsbury by the preceding Conference, took his way South in order to open a new 
mission. He had volunteered for this work because the circuit, having relinquished 
a mission in Wales, had now a preacher to spare. At Cirencester he was stoned and 
otherwise ill-treated, although several persons are said to have received good under 
his preaching who afterwards joined other Churches. Some years had to elapse before 
the Connexion got a permanent footing in Cirencester, and when at last this was done, 
it was through the agency of the very circuit whose founder was Samuel Heath, the 
rejected of Cirencester. So the missionary passed over from Gloucestershire into the 
adjoining county of Wilts. Now, whether S. Heath had received 
general instructions to seek to establish a mission that would be 
in alignment with the one already recently established, we cannot 
be sure ; but this, as things turned out, was what really took 
place, so that Shrewsbury's Mission is quite properly spoken of 
in the Magazine as having been " into the parts bordering on 
the Tunstall Circuit's Western Mission." Instructions or no 
instructions, Samuel Heath felt it was plainly the will of heaven 
he should open his commission here. It did not take long to 
convince him that he might travel far before he found any piece 

of English soil that stood more urgently in need of the preach- ALD . H . PARFITT, J.P. 
ing of the Gospel in all plainness and directness than did the 
northern part of Wilts in which he now found himself. And yet we are told that, 



some seventy-live years before, John Cennick, the hymn-writer and former friend 
of Charles Wesley and Whitefield, had not only preached in a chapel in the parish 
of Brinkworth, but had extensively evangelised the surrounding district, so as even 
to acquire the name of the "Apostle of North Wilts." But three quarters of 
a century afterwards there was very little to show for all this evangelistic effort. 
" The spiritual results of Cennick's teaching had, to human observation, almost wholly 
disappeared. No doubt the moral atmosphere retained some of the evangelical 
sentiment with which it was once so strongly charged, but the power and spirit and 
activities of his propaganda had passed away." His hold upon Brinkworth may at 
one time have been influential, but " the nature of his church organisation failed to 
invest it with permanence."* 

A little later on we shall have to 
consider more fully the social and 
moral condition of the people of the 
Southern counties, especially in its 
bearing on the severe and widespread 
persecution to which the pioneers and 
makers of the Brinkworth District 
were exposed. But there is one 
incident in which Samuel Heath 
figures we will refer to, because it 
took place at Wootton Bassett (now 
in the Brinkworth Circuit) and brings 
before us the contest called back- 
swording once a favourite diversion 
at the revels held on feast and fair- 
days in Wilts and Berks. Thomas 
Hughes shall tell us how the " noble 
old game of back-s wording," as he calls 
it, is played. Despite the name, no 
sword is used by the contestants : 
"The weapon is a good stout ash- 
stick with a large basket handle, 
heavier and somewhat shorter than a 
common single-stick. The players are 


HOUSE, SHEFFORD, BERKS. called old gamesters,' why, I cannot 

tell you, and their object is simply 

to break one another's heads: for the moment that blood runs an inch anywhere 
above the eyebrow, the old gamester to whom it belongs is beaten, and has to 

* The quotations are from " Pioneer Work in the Old Brinkworth District, being Memorials 
of Samuel and Ann Turner," a series of valuable articles which ran through the Aldersgate Magazine 
for 1900, from the pen of Mr. Turner of Newbury. 


stop."* Though the genial author of "Tom Brown's School Days" laments that "the 
noble old game is sadly gone out of late," and has done his best to glorify and rehabilitate 
it for all that, the sport was quite as brutal in its way as the football match played at 
Preston on Maudlin Sunday, and quite as significant of the rough manners of the people. 
S. Heath chose to take his stand and preach in the main street of Wootton Bassett 
just at the time when the crowd were gathered to witness a back-swording contest. 
He went up and down the country preaching from one favourite text which spoke of 
judgment to come; nor did he think it needful, for prudential reasons, to change 
this text for a more conciliatory one, now that he was going into the midst of Vanity 
Fair at an hour when the people were excited by witnessing a gladiatorial combat on 
a small scale. The missionary began his service, but before long he was haled before 
the local authority (Mr. Petty says it was the mayor) for unwarrantably interfering 
with the due order and observances of the Fair. After some altercation he was let 
go, and promptly returned to the same place to finish his sermon. Xor did he preach 
in vain. Many returned to their homes in the surrounding villages under conviction 
of sin, and some of the inhabitants of Wootton Bassett never forgot that day's service. 
Soon afterwards a long room, which had been used as a ball-room in connection with 
a public-house, was taken on rent, and for some time used as a place of worship. 
Of course the worshippers for a time suffered from the usual annoyances ; but the 
society continued to prosper, and it is recorded that " the cruel and barbarous practice 
of back-swording was entirely abolished in the town." At Brinkworth, a village mid- 
way between Wootton Bassett and Malmesbury, a strong society was established, and 
a great moral change wrought in the face of considerable persecution, which the 
clergyman-magistrate was averse from punishing as it deserved. Malmesbury, 
however, was easily first in the bitterness, and we might add the nastiness of its 
opposition to the new movement. Not only were the windows of the preaching-room 
continually being broken, but " intestines of beasts and all manner of filth were thrown 
in upon the people. On one occasion during service, an impious man got the Bible out 
of the preacher's hand and put it into a pot then boiling on the fire ! He was brought 
up before the civil authorities, and fined one shilling and fourpenc.e for his impious 
deed !" These facts were told Mr. Petty in the neighbourhood not long after they 

Samuel Heath had found a fine field of usefulness, such as the prophet found in the 
Valley of Vision. He asked for additional labourers, and two Shropshire preachers 
were sent him in succession, each of whom began his ministry on the Wiltshire 
Mission. The first to come was Edward Vaughan, a man of whom the Connexion 
knows but little, since he died as early as 1828. But, in his brief ministry he did good 
service, not only in Wiltshire but in Blaenavon, the Isle of Man, Tunstall and Boston, 
in whose churchyard his remains are buried. In his own quaint way Hugh Bourne 

* The following is taken from the Reading Mercury of May 24th, 1819 : " Peffard Eevel will be 
held on Whit-Monday, May 31, and for the encouragement of young and old gamesters, there will 
be a good hat to be played for at cudgels ; for the first seven couples that play, the man that breaks 
most heads to win the prize ; and one shilling and sixpence will be given to each man that breaks 
a head, and one shilling to the man that has his head broke." 


has summed him up in the words, " Edward Yaughan was of slender abilities in regard 
to management; but in the converting line the Lord put great honour upon him. 
His faith in the Lord was great, an extraordinary power attended his word, and 
many souls were converted to God through his ministry." (Magazine, 1836, p. 437.) 
Yaughan was followed in March, 1825, by Richard Davies, from whose MS. Autobio- 
graphic Memoranda we can gain an authentic and helpful glimpse of Brinkworth 
Circuit in the making. 

" In due course I reached Seagry, then the centre or head-place in the Mission 
and was kindly received by my senior brethren in the work and others. We all 
went to work in good earnest and many and striking conversions occurred at 
many places. Several powerful societies were formed. We were bitterly opposed 
in our work by parsons, magistrates, and roughs, as vile as the beasts at Ephesus, 
but we, trusting in God, defied them all, rejoicing in these tribulations. . For a 
long time we preached twice a day on week-days, at noon in towns, and in 
villages in the evening, walking many miles daily. Our greatest want was 
suitable places to worship in, and we were often led to be thankful for cart-sheds, 
barns, workshops, cottages, and good village-greens as our sanctuaries. The first 
chapel built was at Seagry, and others followed in due time, which led the people 
to believe that the Primitive Methodists meant to remain and labour amongst 
them, although some ill-disposed persons had said they would not do so. Amid 
our heavy persecutions and trials we were blessed with many friends who liberally 
supported the cause of God according to their ability. There were now five 
missionaries 011 the Mission, which extended over many miles of country, and such 
was the liberality of the societies and congregations, and the profits arising from 
the amazing sale of Hymn-books, Magazines, Nelson's "Journal," etc., that no 
demand was made on the funds of the Shrewsbury Circuit. On the contrary, 
that circuit received considerable pecuniary aid from the Mission." 

Brinkworth became a circuit between the Conferences of 1826-7, and at the same 
time it took over the Stroud Branch of the Western Mission. Mr. R. Davies intimates 
that his own unexpected recall to the home-branch in May, 1826, was the circumstance 
that incidentally brought about the severance of the connection between Shrewsbury 
and its powerful Mission. It was felt that his removal was likely to be detrimental to 
the interests of the Mission, and that it was time to protect itself against the risks of 
similar "untimely and uncalled for removals of preachers" in the future by applying to 
be made into an independent station. The General Committee of the time gave its 
sanction, and the Shrewsbury Circuit acquiesced, as the following laconic minute 
in the Circuit books shows: "That the Wiltshire Mission become from this day 
a circuit by itself." 

Brinkworth began its career as a circuit, having five preachers appointed to it by the 
Conference of 1827, of whom S. Heath was still the superintendent. Unfortunately, 
his name must be added to the list of pioneers, who, like J. Benton, J. Nelson, 
W. Doughty, J. Bonsor and J. Roles, soon dropped out of the ranks. Ideally one 
could wish it had been otherwise, but historical fidelity demands that the fact be duly 
noted. After what has been written of Hutton Rudby, Scotter, Ramsor, Frees, and 
especially of Cwm, the reader will feel little surprise that a village of scarcely more than 


a thousand inhabitants should have become not only the head of a powerful and 
aggressive circuit, but also the head of a District which at one time extended into some 
ten counties. What may awaken surprise is the fact that this village of the Wiltshire 
Uplands should through all the changing years have maintained its District primacy, 
and has not yet lost it, though Swindon has been admitted to be its consort, so that the 
style now runs, "Brinkworth and Swindon District." Our surprise will diminish in 
proportion as we come to know the history of Brinkworth, especially the history of its 
achievements as a missionary circuit, and it is these achievements we have now to 
chronicle. Nowhere is our Connexional history more complex and difficult to follow 
than in this section. The figures called up before us are so many and always in 
motion ; names of towns and villages occur with bewildering frequency ; persecution 
seems everywhere, so as almost to defy record. For result we feel like an uninstructed 
civilian who is watching from a church tower the progress of a big battle to which he 
has not the key. Can this complexity be simplified 1 ? Having regard to where the 
events happened, as well as to the events themselves and the order of their happening, 
can any guiding lines be traced which will save us from losing the sense of direction 
and progress in the midst of this mass of detail ? We think so that the task of 
simplification is not so hopeless as at first sight it looks to be. For example, if we 
keep an eye on the whereabouts and the movements of John Ride from 1828, when 
he was appointed to Brinkworth, to 1844, when he went to Cooper's Gardens, we shall 
see how the battle is going, or, to speak without figure, we shall be able to follow the 
main lines of advance which first took their direction from Brinkworth. 

Brinkworth (1828-31), Shefford (1832-6), Reading (1837-43), London (1844-7) 
these were the successive stations of John Ride for a period of nineteen years. As the 
superintendent of Brinkworth he directed the missionary efforts of that circuit chiefly 
in Berks, and Shefford Circuit was formed in 1832, of which he became superintendent. 
Agents were multiplied, and a vigorous evangelisation was carried on in Hants of which 
Mitcheldever (1835) and Andover (1837) Circuits were the outcome, as also in B>-rks 
represented by Faringdon (1837) and Wallingford (1837) Circuits. The magnitude 
of Shefford Circuit's operations may be judged from the fact, that in 1835 it had no 
fewer than eighteen preachers labouring under the direction of its Quarterly Meeting. 
But John Ride kept to Shefford's main line of advance which was to Reading (1837). 
Thence, still under his direction the work branched out in various directions. 
Aylesbury in Bucks was reached and became a Circuit in 1840, and from Aylesbury, 
Luton in Bedfordshire was made a Circuit in 1843. In this same year 1843 
Wallingford had its two branches of Oxford and Witney, and its two missions Thame 
and Camden. Andover had its Romsey Branch and Lymington Mission in the New 
Forest. Reading had High Wycombe and Windsor Branches, both of which were 
made Circuits in 1848, the latter taking the name of Maidenhead Circuit. Besides 
these it had no less than five missions, viz. : St. Albans, Hertford, Henley, Brentford, 
and Essex. These were during the year transferred to the care of the G.M. Committee. 
In the meantime, the prolific mother-circuits of Brinkworth and Shefford had not 
been inactive. After parting with Shefford, Brinkworth successfully missioned both 
Chippenham and Bristol (made circuits in 1835 and 1837 respectively), and in 1843 it 



had its Cirencester, Cheltenham, and Worcester Branches, and its Filkins and 
Tormorton Missions, and as late as 1854, Malmesbury at last yielded to the vigorous 
assaults of George Warner, and in 1858 was made a circuit. Finally, Shefford in 
1843 had its Marlborough Branch and its Petersfield and Aldermiston Missions. It is 
better to give these dry but necessary details once for all. But 
to revert to our clue, which is as we have seen, the movements of 
John Ride ; Brinkworth, Shefford, Reading, mark the main lines of 
Connexional advance on this side, though what we may call the 
branch extensions are scarcely of less importance. For fifteen 
years John Ride is the superintendent of these three historic 
Circuits, which were the successive centres of that semi-circular 
sweeping movement by which our Church reached the home- 
counties. After his three years term at Cooper's Gardens, John 
Ride was in 1848 put down for Hammersmith with the words : 
"To evangelise or open a fresh mission." As though his work 
in England was finished and he desired more worlds to conquer, 
he in 1849 went as a missionary to Australia : but excessive labour had debilitated his 
frame, and he was compelled to superannuate in 1853 and died 15th January, 1862. 

Some elementary knowledge of the physical geography of the counties of Wilts, 
Berks, and Hants makes the outline facts just given still more significant. Some one 
has called Wiltshire " a mere watershed a central boss of chalk, forming the great 
upland mass of Salisbury Plain and dipping down on every side into the richer basins 



of the two Avons on the West and South, the Kennet on the East, and the Thames 
on the North." The elevated table-land of Salisbury Plain which is a continuation of 
the .Hampshire Downs divides Wilts into two parts. It fell to Motcombe and 
Salisbury as representing the Western Mission to evangelise the Southern part of 


Wilts and a large tract of Dorset. To Brinkworth fell the northern division of the 
county. Here the escarpment of the table-land overlooks to the North the Vale of 
Pewsey, a tract of country which runs across the county from West to East in which 
is situated Devizes. The northern side of the Vale of Pewsey is bounded by the 
upland plain of the Marlborough Downs with their continuations in Berks White 
Horse Hill and Ilsley Downs overlooking to the North the Upper Valley of the Thames, 
called the Vale of the White Horse and the Valley of the Ock in which are Wantage, 
Alfred's birthplace, and Faringdon. Southward, the hills fall in gentle slopes to the 
Valley of the Kennet in which are Huugerford, Newbury and, at its junction with 
the Thames, Reading. Then come the Hampshire Downs, and at their foot the river- 
valleys of the Test and Itchen wherein lie Winchester and Southampton. Evangelisation 
went on in the country now under consideration conformably with that country's 
physical features. First of all, as Nature had divided Wiltshire into two parts, the 
Western Mission had to do with the one, and the Wiltshire Mission with the other - 
the northern part of the county. Starting from Brinkworth as a centre, it soon 
reached Shefford and the Valley of the Kennet, where are the towns of Hungerford 
and Newbury, now the heirs and representatives of the old Shefford Circuit. It 
descended into the Vale of the White Horse in the Upper Thames Valley, and thence 
crossed over into Oxfordshire and the Vale of the Thame. From the Valley of the 
Kennet it ascended the northern slopes of the Hampshire Downs, and then following 
the downward course of the rivers reached Winchester, and finally the New Forest 
and the low-lying country by Southampton Water. Soon also it reached Reading and 
the Lower Thames Valley, and thence spread out into Buckinghamshire the Vale of 
Aylesbury on the one hand, and into Surrey on the other. Then, while the country 
watered by the Southern Avon was left to Motcombe and Salisbury, Brinkworth turned 
its attention to the Vale of Pewsey, and followed the course of the Bristol Avon by 
Calne and Chippenham and on to Bristol itself ; it even extended into Gloucestershire 
to the North. Chronology and geography are the two eyes with which even the 
humble history of the making of the Brinkworth District can easily be followed. 

But what was the social and moral condition of this particular District in 1830, when 
Brinkworth Circuit was about to enter upon its missionary labours? This was just what 
John Ride and the Biinkworth Circuit authorities wanted to know, and so, in their 
own primitive fashion, they sent a walking commission of inquiry into the north- 
eastern corner of Wilts, and into the Vale of the White Horse so dear to Thomas 
Hughes, in order that they might see and learn for themselves the real state of things, 
and ascertain whether these villages did or did not need the simple gospel carrying to 
them. As the Israelites sent forth spies into Canaan before attempting to take posses- 
sion of the land, so in a sense did Brinkworth Circuit send forth its spies, who indeed 
saw the "nakedness of the land." The Berkshire Mission was inaugurated at a famous 
Missionary Meeting held after the Quarterly Meeting on Good Friday, 1829. At this 
meeting there was much earnest prayer on behalf of the proposed mission, and faith 
rose so high that many gained the assurance that, for every penny given that day, a soul 
would be won. John Ride and John Petty (who, in 1828, had come from Pembroke 
Dock to Brinkworth Circuit) were deputed to go into the parts already mentioned and 


survey the land. It was on April 27th, 1829 they set out on their mission, which it 
would be incorrect to regard as merely a reconnaissance, inisinuch as they preached at 
cross or on village-green wherever opportunity offered. These two Johns Ride and 
the still youthful Petty he was only twenty were an order of time the foremost 
pioneers of the Berkshire Mission. The first Primitive Methodist sermon in Berkshire 
was preached at Bourton. They found this fair and goodly land, so rich in historic 
memories going back to the days of good King Alfred, a moral wilderness indeed. 
Dissent was practically unknown, and there was throughout a sad dearth of evangelical 
preaching. At Ashbury a sermon had not been preached by a Dissenter for forty 
years, although here, mercifully, there was a good evangelical clergyman, the same who 
afterwards hailed the advent of the Primitives' missionary, by exclaiming, "Now my 
curate has come!" They preached at Ramsbury, jwhere years before Dr. Coke had 
attempted to preach, but "was attacked by a turbulent mob headed by the vicar of the 
parish.'' Stones and sticks were plentifully used. Dr. Coke was violently pushed from 
his stand, and his gown torn into shreds. Nothing daunted, he continued the service. 
The vicar then thought of another expedient, and gave the order, "Bring out the 
fire-engine." The mandate was obeyed, and both preacher and congregation were 
compelled to retire before the well-directed volleys of this liquid artillery.* Here, 
strange to say, their service was unmolested, but that cannot be said of the one 
held on May-day at Aldbourne. Never, surely, was a religious service "begun, 
continued and ended" under conditions more extraordinary and embarrassing. A, 
troupe of merry-andrews were on the ground in front of the cross, with the double 
purpose in view of interrupting the preacher and of competing with him for the 
attention of the vast audience. There was hand-bell ringing, and the concerted 
shouting of children, to say nothing of a prancing steed bestridden by a man 
bent on mischief. Yet John Petty saint and scholar to be went on steadily and 
solemnly with his discourse on the Second Coming of Christ, not even turning his head 
to see what was the danger threatening from behind, although that there was danger 
he could see from the tell-tale faces of those in front. At the very hour this strange 
May-day service was being held, the friends near Wootton Bassett were praying hard 
and long for the missionaries. 

But lest it should be thought that our picture of the bygone Wiltshire and 
Berkshire wilderness is overdone, we would like, as we have done in the case of 
other districts of England, to adduce corroborative evidence drawn from an unbiassed 
and unimpeachable source. For our present purpose, therefore, we will call as witness 
Mr. Richard Heath, author of "The English Peasant," admittedly an authority, 
and who himself states that " so far as he has personal tastes and sympathies they are 
with the liturgy of the Church of England." In the book just named he refers to the 
agrarian disturbances which, as we have seen, were rife in various parts of England 
in 1830-3 in the Southern counties amongst the rest. In December, 1830, three 
hundred persons were tried at the special assize at Winchester. The Duke of Wellington 
was sent down to support the judges. " They were brought up in batches of twenty 

*-'Life of the Rev. Thos. Coke, D.C.L.," p. 62. 


at a time, and all had -sentence of death recorded against them, Six were actually 
sentenced to suffer on the gallows ; twenty were transported for life, the remainder 
for periods varying according to judicial discretion. The Times newspaper for 
December 27th, 1830, commenting upon the Winchester trials, did not mince 

" We do affirm that the actions of this pitiable class of men [the labourers], as 
a commentary on the treatment experienced by them at the hands of the upper 
and middling classes ; the gentlemen, clergy (who ought to teach and instruct 
them), and the farmers who ought to pay and feed them, are disgraceful to the 
British name. The pi'esent population must be provided for in body and spirit on 
more liberal and Christian principles, or the whole mass of labourers will start 
into legions of a banditti banditti less criminal than those who have made them 
so than those who by a just but fearful retribution will soon become their 

But what has all this to do with Brinkworth's Berkshire Mission? Much every 
way. It shows that that mission was begun and carried on at an unprecedentedly critical 
time in the national life. It may also go some little way to explain why the " peasant 
preachers " of our Church had not only to suffer from mobs ignorant, brutalised by 
neglect, and driven by poverty almost to desperation ; but also why their betters, 
including the large farmers, the clergy, and even the magistrates, were too often not 
merely suspicious but bitterly hostile. We were between two fires. The labourers 
poor souls did not know their true friends ; and those of a higher social grade so 
far misconceived our character and aims as to suspect us of designs intended to be 
subversive of the existing order. 

Referring to the formation of the Labourers' Union in 1872, through the instru- 
mentality of Joseph Arch, Mr. Heath asks : " What had given the labourer courage 
to claim his rights ? I will answer that question by giving the following narrative." 
The story of " Old Ben Roper," the Primitive Methodist local preacher which we 
found in the Magazine for 1858, is the narrative he proceeds to give in full. This story, 
touching as it is and well worth reprinting, we omit. What follows this narrative, 
however, we venture to quote, as it is germane to the matter in hand. 

" Many respectable people would have called old Ben a ' Ranter.' I should call him 
a primitive Christian, for though I do not believe the poor in Judsea had fallen so low 
as the English poor have done, some of the apostles were not in a much more exalted 
station than old Ben. Poor and ignorant as he was, it was men like him who woke in 
the dull, sad minds of his fellow-sufferers a new hope, a belief that there was indeed 
a Kingdom of Heaven worth struggling to obtain. The very ignorance and poverty 
of the labourers cut them off from knowing anything of the Gospel, even in its 
narrow English form. They were too ignorant to understand any one who did not 
speak their language and think their thoughts, too poor to support any kind of 

" In the source from whence the foregoing narrative has been taken \The P. M. 
Magazines] will be found, through a long course of years, the obituaries of Christian 
apostles, some of whom laboured all the week for a wage of a few shillings, and then 
on Sunday walked twenty or thirty miles to preach the Gospel. One such, having six 
children, for weeks ate nothing but bread, although he had five miles to walk daily to 


a barn where he was employed as a thresher. 'Yet,' we are told, 'he sometimes so- 
felt the presence of God that he seemed to have strength enough to cut the straw 
through with his flail.' Believing literally in our Lord's promises, he realised their 
fulfilment, and in moments of dire necessity received help apparently as miraculous as 
that given to Elijah. Nobody, of course, will believe this who supposes that there 
is no other kingdom but that of Nature. However, these things are realised by the 
poor who have the least faith, 'for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.' 

" These were the kind of men who prophesied in ' the valley of the dry bones ' ; but,, 
of course, Resurrection is no agreeable task to unhealthy souls. Like the sickly ' 
sleeper, who has passed a night full of horrible dreams, and has just fallen into a heavy 
slumber before dawn, the benighted villagers cursed the heralds of the coming day r 
and bid them begone. They pelted them with mud, stones, and rotten eggs ; some- 
times threw ropes over them to drag them to the river ; often sought to drown their 
praying and preaching with fire-shovels and tin-kettles. In these persecutions they 
were sometimes led on by the authorities ; and constables wishing to ingratiate them- 
selves with the upper classes laid information against these poor preachers as- 
disturbers of the peace."* 

We do not follow Mr. Heath in his further reference to the gross malversation of 
justice by which John Ride and Edward Bishop were imprisoned at Winchester in 
1834, as that will shortly come before us. The long citation from Mr. Heath's book we 
have given creditable alike to his discernment and his heart amply sustains our 
contention that, in the early 'thirties our land, and not least in its southern counties, 
was indeed in a parlous state, and that, under God, its rescue from that state was 
largely due to the earnest and often ill-requited efforts of Primitive Methodist 
missionaries. And yet, there are journalists and publicists amongst us who, posing 
as experts, and professing to give a list of the great historic revivals which have swept 
healingly over our land, will leap at once from John Wesley and Whitefield to General 
Booth, as though there had been nothing but stagnancy lying between ! So little do- 
they know of the history of their own land, or so much have they forgotten. 

The dark shadow which rested on our land in 1830 cast its gloom over the 

Marlborough Downs, and was felt by Brinkworth's mission- 
aries. They had enough to do to keep it from getting 
into their souls and, as with mephitic vapour, stifling 
their faith and paralysing their efforts. John Petty had 
been replaced on the Berkshire Mission by Richard Jukes,, 
to whom was soon added John Moore. In September, 1829 r 
Thomas Russell took the place of the latter. The work 
was toilsome and the prospect gloomy. The nights were 
getting cold, making open-air services a risk to health. 
At Church Lambourne, over-exertion in order to make 
himself heard above the din, caused him to rupture 
one of the smaller blood-vessels. Houses in which to 

hold services were difficult to get; for even though the "common-people" might 
be favourably disposed, they went in fear of their masters or landlords who threatened 

* " The English Peasant. Studies : Historical, Local and Biographic. By R. Heath," 1893, pp. 54-5. 


them with loss of work or roof-tree if they harboured the missionaries, or in any way 
encouraged them. When in pity a house at Lambourne was offered Mr. Russell, he 
was obliged to walk at once to Salisbury in order to procure a licence. It was a 
dreary journey of thirty miles, a large portion of which was over Salisbury Plain, 
which he travelled on foot, with snow on the ground. Still a beginning was made. 

The first society on the Mission was formed at Upper Lambourne, and in December, 
1829, there were forty-eight members on the Misssion. John Ride himself became 
Mr. Russell's colleague in labour. And now we come to an incident, which, though 
it may be deemed small in the eyes of the world was yet fruitful of results and has 
withal a grandeur and pathos all its own. The scene of the incident is Ashdown on 
the Berkshire Downs, where nearly a thousand years before, King Alfred and his 
brother gained a victory over the Danes. As for the time it is a dull, cheerless day 
in the month of February, 1830. We give the incident, we cannot do better, in the 
words of a writer in the large Magazine for November, 1886, who has drawn out the 
significance of the event under the strikingly appropriate title of "A Parallel and 
a Contrast"*: "Two men of solemn mien, and dressed in the garb of peasant preachers, 
are to be seen approaching Ashdown Park Corner, where the treeless, rolling downs 
are varied by a coppice or small wood. The younger man had already that morning 
walked ten miles across the downs to meet his companion for prayer and counsel, and 
they were now returning together. Reaching the wood they had to part, as their 
destinations lay in different directions. They had already shaken hands. But no ; 
they must not, should not part until it had been fought out on their knees whether their 
mission was to prosper. ' Let us turn in here and have another round of prayer before 
we part,' was the remark of one of them, and turning aside into the coppice and screened 
by the underwood, and being far away from any habitation, no more secluded spot 
for communion with God could be found. Oblivious of the snow, and of personal 
considerations, they throw themselves upon their knees, and in an agony they pour 
out their souls to God. The success of their mission, which is for God's honour, and 
the salvation of souls, is summed lip in the burden of their prayer, ' Lord, give us 
Berkshire ! Lord, give us Berkshire ! ' The pleading continued for hours. At last 
the younger one receives the assurance, and rising to his feet, exclaims with an out- 
burst that betokens a new-found possession, ' Yonder country's ours, yonder country's 
ours ! And we will have it,' as he points across the country, the prospect of which is 
bounded by the Hampshire Hills some thirty miles distant. ' Hold fast ! I like thy 
confidence of faith ! ' is the reply of the more sober pleader. They now part with 
the assurance that ' yonder country is ours.' " 

Such was the conflict in which were arrayed on one side, the powers of darkness, 
and on the other the two men sent forth to establish the Primitive Methodist Mission in 
Berkshire. Up to this point the opposition had been so violent as sorely to try the 
faith of the missionaries. On leaving the wood, John Ride and Thomas Russell, for 
these were the men whose names will be imperishable as the pioneers of Primitive 
Methodism in Berkshire, went to their respective appointments. On the following 
night Thomas Russell was at Shefford ; the word touched the hearts of Mr. and 
* The writer is Mr. Turner of Newbury. 


Mrs. Wells, who built a house which served as the missionaries' home and the place for 
worship. This, indeed, has been the roof-tree of Berkshire Primitive Methodism, the 
original home of its early preachers, as well as its first meeting-house. Few incidents 
in the religious history of the county are of greater significance than this afternoon 
prayer in the wood at Ashdown. Had the pleaders lost faith in their cause the religious 
aspect of the county would have been different. Remarkable revivals of religion followed 
this time of wrestling prayer, the habits and practices of the people became changed, 
scores of sanctuaries were erected, until now there are more Primitive Methodist 
congregations in Berkshire than of any other Nonconformist body, and probably more 
Primitive Methodist Chapels. It is surely a noteworthy coincidence that almost on the 
spot where the struggle for Saxon and Christian supremacy in England was decided, 
there also took place a struggle which decided whether Primitive Methodism was to be 
a power in the county. It is also illustrative of the way in which God honours 
prayer, for while Messrs. Ride and Russell pleaded for Berkshire, He gave also 
territory beyond.* 


As the present chapter is already sufficiently long, we will glance at the " origins " of 
the three Cornish Circuits that were included in the newly-formed Brinkworth District 
of 1833, reserving for a final chapter a glance at some of the lights and shadows of 
Brinkworth District when it was in the making. We got to Cornwall just as we got 
to Hull and Leeds by invitation. The invitation was addressed to William Clowes 
while labouring on the London Mission, and it came from Mr. W. Turner, of Redruth. 
He had formerly been for a few months a preacher among the Bible Christians, but 
had withdrawn, and for two years he and his wife had been working as unattached 
evangelists in and around Redruth. They had succeeded in gathering some one 
hundred persons into their societies. These societies Mr. Turner was now anxious to 
hand over to the Primitive Methodist Connexion in the hope that the flock hitherto 
his care would be duly shepherded, and the work of evangelisation be vigorously 
pushed forward. Hull Circuit's Quarterly Meeting acceded to the request, having first 
received the required assurance that Mr. Turner and his followers would in all things 
submit to the discipline of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. 

Mr. Clowes arrived at Rednith on October 5th, 1825, on what proved to be his last 
general mission. Though exhausted with his all-night coach journey from Exeter, he 
yielded to the importunity of the friends to preach to them the same night. "While 
waiting on the Lord in the meeting I felt," he writes, "a girding on of the Divine 
power ; the mission baptism began to flow upon me " which surely was of good omen 
for the success of the mission. As the people retired from the service they were over- 
heard saying " He'll do ; he'll do." His next duty was to hear Mr. Turner preach his 
trial sermon as a candidate for the "full plan." The sermon was indifferently good, 
but at one point in his discourse the preacher went off into a fit of holy laughter, 
which many in the congregation seemed to find infectious. Clowes met with this 

* It may be as well to state that the account of this incident is taken from the writer's smaller 
History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. 



laughing, dancing and shouting several times during his Cornish mission, and he did 
not approve of it, hut expostulated with those who indulged in these histrionic 
manifestations. If they felt happy, let them bless the Lord as the Psalmist did, when 
he called upon his "soul and all that was within him to bless and praise His holy 
name." As to Mr. Turner, it may be said parenthetically, he seems to have honoured 
the terms of his agreement. He remained loyal to the Connexion to the end of his long 
life. For ten years he was a travelling preacher in the Connexion, and then located at 
Frome, where he had previously travelled. As a local preacher, class leader, and 
diligent family visitor he made himself useful and respected. He passed away as 
recently as 1880.* 

Our interest in all that relates to William Clowes must not indtice us to follow him 
in his itinerations from place to place, or to note every incident which occurred. 
Enough to say that his labours were chiefly confined to Redruth and its vicinity, 
varied by occasional visits to St. Austell and the Downs, where Mr. Turner's people 
had chapels one the walls of which was of mud, and the other of mud and stone. He 
also found his way once, at least, to St. Day, where on a subsequent visit in 1833 he had 
one of those experiences of a ghostly kind, such as John Wesley loved to take note of, 
and such as now find their way into the Transactions of the Psychical Research Society.t 
The impression one get's from the careful reading of the Journal so far as it relates to 
this time is that, while in Cornwall, Clowes was not equal to his former self ; that his 
excessive labours and, we may add, the sins of his youth, were beginning to tell upon 
him, and that there were already premonitory signs of that somewhat serious break- 
down which occurred in February, 1827, and which led to his ceasing to have charge 
of a station from December of the same year. His experience was marked by swift and 
sharply contrasted alternations of mood. Now he was in a state of exaltation, with 
all the old sense of freedom and power. " He felt the priestly vestments cover his 
soul as the glory covered the mercy seat." Then he was down in the trough of 
depression, fighting for his life : he felt as if he were near the gates of hell. These 
varying subjective states were the spiritual counterpart and reflection of the vicissitudes 
of his lot and circumstances from day to day. Toil and exhaustion, mental tension 
and reaction swiftly succeeded one another. Like Paul he knew what it was "both 
to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want." Now he was well 
and comfortably lodged, with a good table spread before him ; the next day might find 
him at a loss for a meal or a bed. One day, when no hospitable door stood open, he 
went on the top of Charn Bray Rock. He bethought him there of what Wesley and 
Nelson had done in the same county and under the like circumstances, and looked 
round, if haply he might find some blackberries with which to appease his hunger. 
One blackberry, and that an unripe one was all he could find and he dined off that. 
At another time he wandered pensively on the cliffs. He lay down on a rock and 
watched the waves as they dashed against the reefs. He peopled the solitude with 
the forms of friends whose love he cherished. Then the thought of the London 

* See his memoir in the Magazine for 1881, written by Rev. .1. H. Best. 

t Clowes' Journal, p. 338. See also article by Rev. E. Bocock on " William Clowes and the 
Ghost," Aldersgate Magazine, 1900, p. 530. 



Mission and the urgency of its affairs "pressed in upon him. " Oh, that 100 that 
was owing to Mrs. Gardiner ! What was to be done about that ? " He prayed, and 
tried to believe [that God would give them a happy issue out of all these troubles. 
Soon after, G. Tetley sent the happy news that Mrs. Gardiner had consigned the 
promissory note to the flames. 

Though Mr. Clowes was not privileged to see such remarkable results follow his 
labours in Cornwall as he had witnessed in the North, yet his labours met with a con- 
siderable measure of success. When, just before his removal, the Quarterly Meeting 
of the Mission was held February 26th, 1826, it was found there were 225 members in 

church-fellowship and that the 

financial affairs of the Mission 
were in a satisfactory state. Mr. 
Petty thought it unfortunate that 
Mr. Clowes was removed just at 
the turn of the tide ; for soon 
after his removal one of the 
most remarkable revivals for 
which even Cornwall has been 
distinguished broke out; and 
there can be no question that 
this revival was largely due to 
the sound preparatory work done 
by Mr. Clowes during the four 
months he was on the Mission. 
John Garner succeeded Mr. 
Clowes as superintendent in 
September, 1826, and he had as 
his colleagues Messrs. Driffield, 
Abey, and Hewson, all of whom 
we have met before. W. Driffield 
was a Cleethorpes man. He 
was taken out to travel by Hull 
Circuit, and while in the town 
he lived under Mr. Clowes' roof. 
He laboured on the Bridlington 

and Scarborough branches, was arrested for preaching in the open-air at Beverley, 
laid the foundation-stone of its first chapel, became responsible for a hundred pounds 
of its cost, and along with John Verity begged a considerable sum of money on 
its behalf. Fourteen consecutive years of his ministry were spent at Redrutb, 
St. Austell, and St. Ives, and being a man of some means, as he evidently was, 
he cheerfully undertook monetary responsibilities in connection with buildings erected 
or rented by the denomination. At Redruth he is said to have found an unfinished 
chapel, which he got completed at a loss to himself of nearly 300. It need scarcely 
be said that the chapel thus referred to was not the one shown in our illustration 

x 2 


which was built in 1884. He paid the first rent of the room at Penzance, Newlyn, 
Falmouth, and Truro. He introduced Primitive Methodism into various places both 
in the western part of Cornwall and in some parts of Devonshire. "I missioned," 
he says, "Devonport, Exeter, Bridgerule, and Barnstaple, and my responsibilities 
at one time must have amounted to nearly 2000." He subsequently travelled in 
Brinkworth, Salisbury, Motcombe, and Banbury Circuits, and at his death in 1855, 
his body was carried to Wootton Bassett for burial. It is due to such a man, who 
was also "a most powerful and zealous revivalist," that his name and work should 
be remembered, especially by the circuits he helped to found and establish. With 
such fellow-labourers as these, we are not surprised to find John Garner reporting that 
in ten months six hundred persons had united with the Church. In 1828 Redruth 
became a circuit with twelve preachers. 

One of the most notable gains of the great Cornish revival of the 'Twenties was 
the acquisition of Adolphus Frederick Beckerlegge to the Church and the ministry. 
Were it not that the memory of men is so short, Mr. Beckerlegge would rank in the 
general regard of the Connexion as one of the most remarkable men it has produced. 

And yet he is chiefly remembered on the 
strength of one or two extraordinary sayings 
which have stuck like burrs and been carried 
along by the years, while his more solid 
qualities and extensive services have been 
almost forgotten. There is no memoir of 
him in the Magazine of the time, and the 
regulation record of his death, in the Con- 
ference Minutes of 1867, is scarcely longer 
than an ordinary tombstone inscription. 
Happily, Dr. Joseph Wood did much to 
recall to the attention of a later generation 
of Primitive Methodists one who would 
&^/7&fa/- have a strong claim to remembrance, were 
it for no other reason than that, but for 
his influence, Dr. Wood might never have entered our ministry: But apart from 
this, Mr. Beckerlegge was in every sense an uncommon man. From his name to 
his calligraphy everything about him seemed exceptional. He had a commanding 
presence, a fine voice, a refined pronunciation, and as a preacher he was far beyond 
the average. He was born at St. Ives in 1798, and after receiving a Grammar School 
education, settled in business as a watchmaker and jeweller at Penzance. Any 
worldly ambition he might reasonably have cherished was set aside when the call 
of the Church came. He carried out the injunction he himself afterwards laid 
on young Joseph Wood when he found it difficult to choose his path: "There is 
not the money in the ministry, but there is the glory ; and you must go for the 
glory." Mr. Beckerlegge was stationed in 1828 as one of the preachers of Redruth, 
and after subsequently travelling in some of the leading circuits of the Hull and 
Nottingham Districts he returned to St. Ives, where he was under the superintendency 




of that apostolic man C. T. Harris. Superannuated in 1862, Mr. Beckerlegge died 
at Flushing in 1868. 

Before leaving Redruth to glance at some other places that formed part of the 
mission, we would refer to two captains of industry who have lately passed away who 
were rightly regarded as the two pillars of the Redruth Church, 
and whose names will serve to link together for us its past and 
its present. Captain John Hosking, who died June 21st, 1901, 
was for many years probably the best-known and most highly 
respected layman of the Cornwall and Devon District. His 
biographer, the Rev. J. H. Best, says : " When comparatively 
young he qualified himself for and attained the position of mine 
captain, and after being thus employed for many years be was 
appointed mineral agent, and had the direction of the mining 
department of Tehidy estate. He was calm, genial, kind in bearing, 
wise in counsel, and of a truly catholic spirit." For forty-seven 
years he was a local preacher, and at the time of his death he 
had two classes under his care. For many years he was also Circuit Steward and 
school superintendent. He loved good, sound literature, and even during his last 
affliction this love showed itself. Books were strewn round his pillow, and when free 
from the paroxysms of pain he found solace in turning to the words of some master 
of thought. 

Captain C. F. Bishop was the manager of two important tin- 
mines employing more than a thousand men, and he had come 
to be regarded as one of the leading authorities on mining in 
the country. Beginning life as a working miner, he had by 
dint of perseverance worked his way to this honourable position. 
He efficiently discharged the duties of a local preacher for forty 
years, and was also a class-leader and active worker in the Sunday 
school. Together with Captain Hosking he was very helpful in 
the building of the Redruth chapel. Nor should his systematic 
liberality to the poor go without mention. Captain Bishop died 
November, 1902. 


The great revival already spoken of was not confined to Redruth, but was mightily 
felt in the St. Austell part of the station, where John Hewson was stationed. In 
July, 1827, Joseph Grieves, whom we saw last in "VVeardale, was sent to assist him. 
Shortly after his arrival a notable camp meeting was held on the " Wrestling Downs," 
so called because the annual wrestlings which took place at the parish wakes were held 
there. These were due to come off on the Sunday after the camp meeting, which was 
one of great power. One of the umpires was arrested by the Spirit of God, abandoned 
the sport to which he had been addicted, and united himself with the Church. The 
wrestlers left the camp-meetingers in possession of the field, and retired to a spot on 
the other side of the town. A chapel was afterwards erected on the "Wrestling 




Downs." How powerfully the revival had affected the district will be made evident 
from Mr. Grieves' statement that in September, 1828, there were 457 members on the 
mission (St. Austell) and 282 on the home branch (Redruth). In 1829 St. Austell 
was made a circuit. It afterwards became a station under the care of the General 
Missionary Committee and so far prospered, especially under the superintendency of 
Mr. E. Powell, that it was again made an independent circuit. 


Penzance, the last town in the South-west of England, was visited by John Garner 
while he was at Redruth. He walked there, preached in the Green Market to an 
attentive congregation, then made his way to Newlyn where he also preached, after 
which he returned to Redruth, having preached twice and walked thirty-seven miles. 


Shortly after, Mr. Teal was appointed as a missionary to Penzance. He was successful 
in raising a society of twenty members at Penzance and one of about thirty at Newlyn. 
But this devoted young man caught cold at a camp meeting, and consumption soon 
claimed him for its victim. His place on the mission was taken by Joseph Grieves. 
From an interesting article which appeared in the Magazine for 1857, we are told that 
the first place occupied in the town was a low dilapidated schoolroom in Market Jew 
Street. Thence a removal was made to a schoolroom in South Parade. Queen Street 
Chapel and a schoolroom in North Street were successively occupied until 1839, when 
a new chapel was opened in Mount Street by Messrs. Cummin, Driffield, and Wigley. 
This building was enlarged in 1848, 1851, 1853, and 1857 under the care severally of 
Joseph Best, Robert Tuffin, John Sharpe, and Robert Hartley. 


St. Ives was "opened" by Joseph Grieves on July 15th, 1829. "When he arrived at 
the river Hayle to cross from Penzance to St. Ives the tide was up ; under these 
circumstances passengers had to wait the reflux of the waters before they could proceed. 
He went into an old church, nearly buried in the sand, where he spent about three 
hours in prayer, beseeching God to go with him. A few apples made the missionary's 
dinner. The tide having now ebbed he prepared to cross. While taking off his 
stockings for this purpose, a. strong man offered to carry him over on his back, and 
after a little difficulty Mr. Grieves reached his destination. He went to a "decked 
boat " on the Quay, and stood upon it, and there alone and a stranger began to sing 
" Come, oh come, thou vilest sinner," etc. The people were struck with astonishment, 
and a crowd, chiefly made up of sailors and fishermen with their wives, soon gathered 
round. With great liberty the preacher offered gospel terms to the worst of sinners. 
Many wept and earnestly entreated another visit, promising a place to preach in. 
When he returned the following week he had nearly two thousand persons to preach to. 
" The hearts of many were smitten ; numbers dated their first religious impressions 
from this night." As the result of this and subsequent visits a remarkable revival of 
religion broke out which extended to the other Churches of the town, and a striking 
reformation took place in the manners of the people. We read of no persecution being 
encountered by the missionaries ; on the contrary, they were welcomed and treated with 
kindness and respect by all classes. In June, 1830, there were 136 members 
in society. The Penzance mission became first the St. Ives' Branch of Redruth Circuit, 
and then in 1833 St. Ives became the head of an independent station. A large 
chapel was built in St. Ives which Mr. Grieves had the gratification of opening. 
An interesting incident occurred at St. Ives in 1839, while Mr. Dritfield was on the 
station made such in 1833 with Penzance as its second place. The Rev. Mr. Malkin, 
clergyman of the Established Church in that town, became converted to God during 
a powerful revival of religion. " Attracted by a spirit of curiosity, he entered the 
chapel at a late hour one evening, when the Spirit of God instantly arrested him. 
In a few days he obtained pardon, left the Church, and preached his first evangelical 
sermon in our (the Primitive Methodist) Chapel from 'Come, and hear, all ye that fear 
God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul ' : Psa. Ixvi. 16."* 

No good purpose would be served by occupying space in showing what was done 
by the Connexion in the county of Devon during the first period of its history since, 
unfortunately, the efforts put forth, however successful they might seem to be at the 
time, were destined to end in failure and withdrawal. The story of the renewal of 
missionary effort in this charming county this time happily successful belongs to 
a later period of our history. Mr. Petty lived nearer the time when these events 
happened, and presumably was conversant with all the facts ; hence, we shall content 
ourselves with reprinting and handing on his well-weighed words on this sombre 
episode in our history. 

" It is painful to add that, notwithstanding the labour and toil which several 
of the first and succeeding missionaries spent on the mission stations in this fine 
county, and the cheering prospects which for a time presented themselves in 

* " Memoir of Rev. W. Driffield." Magazine, 1855, p. 259. 


some of them, a succession of calamities befell them all ; and through the improper 
conduct of one of the preachers, the inefficiency of two or three more, the lack of 
sufficient connexional support, and of courage and perseverance under difficulties, 
the whole county was abandoned by the Primitive Methodist Connexion ! It is 
humiliating to record these facts, but truth and fidelity demand their insertion 
in these pages. It was certainly not honourable to the community, nor in harmony 
with the spirit of enterprise and perseverance which it has generally displayed, to 
relinquish all the mission stations which it had in the county, though several 
disasters had occurred on them. However, the labour, toil, and expense spent 
thereon were not altogether in vain. A few souls were brought to the Lord under 
the ministry of the missionaries, who died happy in communion with them ; 
several acceptable and useful travelling preachers were raised up, who have 
rendered good service to the Connexion, namely, Messrs. Chubb, Rooke, Grigg, 
Mules, etc., and the Wesleyan and Bible Christian communities largely shared 
in the fruits of the missionaries' labours on the before-named stations. It was 
well that these two denominations were able to collect into church-fellowship 
the scattered remains of the societies unwisely relinquished by the Primitive 
Methodists." History, p. 292. 

Mr. Petty's closing reference to the Bible Christian Church challenges an observation 
OP two on the early relations of that community with our own. The experiences of 
the two denominations at the opposite extremities of England were curiously parallel. 
In Northumberland societies that had belonged to the Bible Christians fell to our lot, 
and their minister withdrew. In Devon much the same thing happened, only in this 
case it was we who withdrew and left our sheep to be gathered into the Bible Christian 
or Wesleyan Methodist fold. But the parallel is not merely an incidental or superficial 
one : it goes much deeper than this. The two denominations were alike in the time 
and circumstances of iheir origin, the class of people they worked amongst, the agents 
they employed, the spirit that animated them, the methods of evangelisation they 
employed. Each was so like the other that they might have been called the Methodist 
twins. Even in later years, when each denomination has developed its specific 
differences, the curious resemblance between them has struck the attention of observers.* 
To any one who knows the early history of both communities it will be matter for 
wonder why they that were so much alike and so near together did not come nearer 
still, and it will be cause for regret that alliance or union was not something more 
than one of the might-have-beens of history ; for union was never, perhaps, so near 
as it was a few years after the origin of both denominations. Even as early as 
1820 our fathers were no strangers to the idea of amalgamation with another religious 
body. In that year, as the old Minute-book of the Hull Circuit shows, overtures were 
made for union with the Primitive Wesleyans of Ireland. Of course the overtures 
came to nothing, as they were bound to do. The two denominations had very little in 
common. Each attached quite a different meaning to the word " Primitive." To the 
Primitive Wesleyans it meant holding tight to John Wesley's High-Church notions 

* " The Bible Christians closely resemble the Primitive Methodists in character and spirit."- 
Eev. J. Telford : " Popular History of Methodism." " There is a striking resemblance between this 
body and the Primitives." " The Revised Compendium of Methodism," by James Porter, D.D. 


no service in church-hours, no sacrament except at the hands of the Church clergyman 
notions that the Wesleyan Methodists had quite properly discarded. What we meant 
by "^Primitive " need not again be stated. The Primitive Wesleyans ran off with 
John Wesley's antique garments and having arrayed themselves in them, said : " \Ve 
are the true followers of John Wesley the primitive Wesleyans." The Primitive 
Methodists cared not one jot for the out-of-date clothes. What they were anxious 
about was to catch his spirit and to follow his methods of evangelisation. A year 
after Hull Circuit had ineffectually flirted with the Primitive Wesleyans, Conference 
by resolution opened the pages of the Magazine to Mr. O' Bryan, the originator of the 
Bible Christian community, and articles from his pen appeared there dealing with 
passages in his own life and with the question of female preaching. The observations 
which these articles drew forth from Hugh Bourne on "the remarkable similarity 
between the two bodies as regards their practical recognition of the ministry of 
females" have already been given (voL ii. p. 3). This interchange of courtesies 
might easily, one thinks, have led on to a union of the forces and fortunes of the two 
denominations. But neither was this to be. Each denomination took its own course, 
like the rivers Severn and Wye which rise near together and then diverge, but only 
to approximate again and to mingle their waters at last in the same broad estuary. It 
may be this last feature is a parable of the future, as the other features are a parable 
of the past, and that it is to a broad United Methodism we are tending. 





ERSECUTION but persecution not without its alleviations and compensa- 
tions is what we wish to write of in this chapter. If the question were 
simply this : " How does this particular southern district of England 
compare with other districts you have passed through, in regard to the 
amount of persecution the Connexion's missionaries met with in doing their work ? " there 
could only be one answer. " It compares unfavourably with other districts, and for 
the reasons already stated. You must take your Persecution Map and with your 
brush put dabs of colour on the counties of Wilts, Dorset, Berks, Oxon, Surrey ; and 
on Hants it must be darker than anywhere else in England." We will suppose the 
brush has done its work. But in reality the sombreness of the story is relieved by 
many touches of brightness, and our Persecution Map gives only half the truth. There 
is the courage and cheery hopefulness with which the missionaries met their 
persecutions. There is the success that at last came to them as a reward. If they 
had persecutors they also had an ever-increasing band of faithful men and women 
who " through good report and evil," clung to them and the cause. If there weie 
raging mobs and hostile squires and parsons and magistrates, theie were here and there 
humble cottages and farm-houses wheie they found sympathy and shelter. So the 
missionary's experience, as he toiled on, was chequered with light and shade like 
a moonlit path through the trees. This is the impression we ought to gain. Emphasis 
must of course be laid on the fact that this was connexionally our Persecution Area. 
Yet we must not forget to put the lights in. To leave them out would be like stopping 
short with Christ's words : " In the world ye shall have tribulation." We must go- 
on and hear the finish: "But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," and 
then we have the darkness shot through with light. Somehow, this passage haunts the 
mind as we write of Brinkworth District's formation and extension ; and it does so 
because men endured and overcame in cheerful mood as their Master had done. 

In the parts already named, persecution was so common as to be the rule rather than 
the exception. This being so, it follows that all the pioneers of the old Brinkworth 
District came in for their share of it when labouring hereabout. Some might be more 
daring, or less prudent and tactful in their handling of the mob ; more aggressive in 
manner and more provocative of speech, being less able to withhold the retort, and 
given to speaking their mind. No doubt this was so, and perhaps explains a good deal. 
But even the meekest and most eelf-resliained evangelif-t did not always escape ; nor 


did the gentle women whose sex should have been their protection. Several pious 
females were employed on the mission, and broke down in health. " S. Wheeler was 
taken out, but could not bear up under the toils. Then Miss Evans, but she found the 
journeys too severe, and persecution too violent." Ann Godwin, afterwards the wife 
of H. Green, the Australian missionary, was brought to death's door as the result of her 
trying experiences. At Childrey " it was grievous to see the young women with their 
plain neat bonnets crushed down on their heads and their frocks torn." At Foot 
Baldon, in Oxfordshire, a female preacher was knocked down with a stone. As for 
Elizabeth Smith (afterwards Mrs. Russell), during the two years 1830-2 she was 
on the mission, she moved about amongst the rough crowds as though she had 
a charmed life. At notorious Ramsbury she walked up the avenue to the barn where 
she was to conduct the service, singing with great sweetness and pathos. The path 
was lined with men provided with stones, eggs, and other missiles ready to fling; 
but as their ringleader saw and heard the preacheress, " dressed in the characteristic 
garb of a Friend," he was overawed, and turning to his followers, he said with 
authority: "None of you shall touch that woman." And this disarming of opposition 
as by the mere efflux of her own personality was an incident often repeated. In 
referring to Miss Smith as associated with Thomas Russell while pioneering in 
Hampshire, Mr. Petty writes : " It may be questioned, however, whether his excellent 
and devoted female colleague, who laboured witli him in the gospel, was not still more 
successful than he. The novelty of female preaching attracted crowds to hear her ; 
and her modesty and good sense, her clear views of evangelical truth, her lucid 
statements, and her solemn and pathetic appeals to the heart and conscience, under 
the Divine blessing, made deep impressions, and rendered her very useful among the 
peasantry in Hampshire." With this well- deserved tribute we take leave of one of the 
most attractive figures in our history. Elizabeth Smith's ail-too brief life ended 
February 21st, 1836. 

We have spoken much of John Ride, and Mr. Petty in his history devotes very 
considerable space to the doings and sufferings of Thomas Russell, as we too have done 
or shall have to do. But the portrait-group of some of the Brinkworth District 
pioneers all of whom we believe ended their days at Newbury in the very heart of 
the country they helped to evangelise should serve to remind us that neither 
John Ride nor Thomas Russell had a monopoly of toil and persecution. They 
were but the first among many brethren. For besides the veterans of the group 
referred to, there were others, their compeers, who also did their part in the same work 
and bore the brunt of opposition in doing it. The names of some of these will 
come before us. With all this mass of material to choose from, all that we can hope to 
do is to single out what may rightly be regarded as typical examples of persecution. 
As these examples are to stand as representative ones in our annals, they may be 
considered almost in the light of documents which must be handed down in the 
very form in which they were received. First then, in the order of time, we give 
what should be known in our annals as "The Chaddleworth Case, 1830." The 
persecution which clothes itself under legal forms is more hateful than mob violence 
and it is harder to bear. It admits of less excuse, and is felt by the sufferer to 




be a deeper outrage. Chaddleworth, 
in Berkshire, affords a glaring and 
typical example of this kind of per- 
secution of which Thomas Russell 
was the victim. He was sentenced 
to three months' hard labour, osten- 
sibly, for selling without a licence, 
but, really, because he would persist 
in preaching the gospel in the streets 
of Chaddleworth that is the fact 
as it stands forth in its shameful 
nakedness. It was a " put-up job " 
on the part of the clergyman and a magistrate. The phrase used has vile associations 
and may look objectionable in print, but the writer knows no other phrase that will quite 
so well convey the meaning intended. It was known that Mr. Russell occasionally sold 
denominational magazines and hymn books to his people. Here was material to hand 
for the making of a cunning trap. But the official representatives of Law and Religion 
would not themselves set the trap. That work was assigned to the parish constable, 
who was a tenant of the magistrate. Unsuspectingly, Mr. Russell walked into the 
trap. He was, as we have said, sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard 
labour in Abingdon jail. But even then he might have been let go, had he but 
consented to give an undei taking not to preach any more in the neighbourhood. But 
that undertaking he would not give ; so he was stripped, made to put on a felon's garb, 
and sent to work the tread mill. When appetite and health both failed, the prison 
doctor said : " He came here to be punished, and punished he must be " ; and he was 
ordered back to the wheel. 

But this prison episode is not without its touches of brightness. It called forth 
sympathisers and protectors, and was overruled for final if not immediate good to the 
cause which was sought to bn crushed. The Nonconformist ministers of Abingdon 


Mr. Wilkins (Congregationalist), Mr. Kershaw (Baptist), and Mr. Loutit (Wesleyan), 
made themselves fully conversant with the facts. They were deeply concerned as well 
as interested, and at once brought the case under the notice of the Religious Protection. 
Society of London. Mr. John Wilks, the secretary, energetically bestirred himself in 
the matter, with the result that Mr. Russell was liberated from prison on June 5th, 1830,. 
when he had served but one month of his sentence. Some little time after his release 
Mr. Wilks sent to request his presence in London, and remitted him money, through. 
Mr. Kershaw of Abingdon, to bear his expenses thither. Mr. Russell accordingly 
repaired to the metropolis, and had several interviews with Mr. Wilks. At last, 
Mr. Wilks asked Mr. Russell what he wished to be done. Mr. Russell replied : " All 
I wish is to go on preaching unmolested by the magistrate." Mr. Wilks rejoined : 
" Mr. Russell, your spirit is that of a Christian, and your wish shall be granted. Go- 
on, sir, in your work, and we will protect you." At parting, Mr. Wilks kindly gave 
Mr. Russell three pounds to meet his expenses, and Mr. Russell bade him adieu with 
a grateful heart, and returned with fresh courage to prosecute his missionary work in 
Berkshire. The good work had progressed during his imprisonment, and a powerful 
camp meeting, the first held in the county of Berks, was held on Bishopstone Down, 
near Ashdown Park, on Sunday, May 30th, 1830. Some thousands attended in the 
afternoon ; much divine power attended the word preached, and great good was effected. 
At night, an excellent lovefeast was held at Bishopstone, and several persons labouring 
under a burden of sin, found peace in believing. 

Let us note that what we see at Abingdon the sympathy of the Free Church 
leaders taking a practical form was repeated again and again in other parts of the 
Persecution Area. So it was, as we shall see, at Faringdon, at Shaftesbury, and notably 
at Winchester. More, perhaps, in the Southern counties than in other parts of 
England, prominent leaders of the Free Churches made it quite clear on which side their 
sympathies lay. They came forward as vindicators and protectors, moved to action 
not merely by a feeling of common humanity but by enlightened self-interest and the 
elementary instinct of self-preservation. They had the discernment to see what were 
the issues involved ; what were the aims, the tendencies, the possibilities of the new 
movement. They were not slow to recognise in it a new, and what in the end might 
prove to be a valuable ally. It therefore behoved them not to allow a movement of 
so much promise to be crushed before it could acquire strength and show its power. 

The story of Thomas Russell's savage handling by the mob in King Alfred's native 
Vale of the White Horse may stand a? a typical case of its kind. 

"Mr. Russell entered upon the Faringdon mission in full expectation of severe 
persecution, in which he was not deceived. Before four o'clock in the morning of the 
third Sunday in April, 1832, he prepared for his journey to the scene of his intended 
missionary operations. His mind was oppressed with the burden of the work before 
him, and the dread of persecution and suffering ; but he was supported with a sense 
of the Divine approval and the hope of success. When he arrived at the summit of 
a hill about ten miles from Wantage, he saw the town lying before him, and instantly 
a dread of what awaited him well-nigh overcame him. He met two men who knew 
him, and they advised him to return on account of the severe persecution which they 
expected he would have to encounter. He thanked them for their sympathy but went 


forward on his journey. At nine o'clock he stood up in the market-place and began 
to sing a hymn. He next knelt down and prayed, and concluded without molestation. 
But ere he commenced preaching a number of ruffians surrounded him, and he had 
not spoken long when a more violent company arrived and pushed him from his 
standing-place, driving him before them like a beast. He heard some of them cry, 
' Have him down Mill Street ! ' and suspecting, perhaps properly, that they intended 
to throw him into the river which flows at the bottom of that street, he determined 
if possible to prevent being driven down it, and managed to keep in the market-place. 
After being driven to and fro an hour or more, his inhuman persecutors paused, when 
Mr. Russell threw open his waistcoat, and in the true spirit of a martyr cried : ' Lads ! 
if the shedding of my heart's blood will contribute to your salvation, I am willing for 
it to be shed on these stones.' At this moving statement those who were nearest him 
drew back a little, and seemed to relent; but a violent gang outside the throng pushed 
forward and urged the rest to reaction (sic). A respectable looking person, who Mr. R. 
afterwards learned was the chief constable, came to him and said : ' If you will leave, 
all will then be quiet.' Mr. R. replied : 'If I have broken the law, punish me according 
to the law, and not in this manner.' The constable then withdrew without ever 
attempting to quell the lawless mob, who again assailed the solitary missionary with 
ruthles-i violence. At length the beadle came and seized Mr. Russell by the collar, and 
led him to the end of the town, and there left him. Mr. Russell's strength was almost 
exhausted with the violent usage he had suffered in the market-place; but determining 
if possible to address those who had followed him thither, he stood upon the side of a 
hedge and preached as well as he was able. But his persecutors were not yet satisfied ; 
they pelted him with stones, eggs, mud, and everything they could render available 
for the purpose. Even women, unmindful of the tenderness of their sex, joined in 
this cruel treatment; some of them took the dirt out of their patten-rings to cast at 
the preacher ! When Mr. Russell concluded the service he was covered from head 
to foot with slime, mud, rotten eggs, and other kinds of filth ; and his clothes were 
torn, and his flesh bruised. As soon as he got alone by the side of a canal, he took 
off his clothes and washed them. Then putting them on wet, 'enduring hardness as 
a good soldier of Jesus Christ,' he proceeded to Faringdon, where similar treatment 
befell him. When he came to a pool of water outside the town, he washed his clothes 
a second time, and then went five miles further to Shrivenham, where he was met with 
another violent reception. At a brook he cleaned himself a third time, and then 
proceeded to another village, where he preached in peace, except that a person threw 
a stone or other hard material at him, which cut his lip. After this he walked six 
miles to Lambourn to rest for the night. He had been on foot eighteen hours, had 
walked thirty-five miles, had preached four times, and had gone through an amount 
of suffering such as none but a strong, healthy man could have endured. Next day, 
however, he walked twenty miles to the other side of his mission, and during the 
week preached at several fresh places." 

The story does not end here, for on the following Sunday Mr. Russell again visited 
Wantage and Faringdon, only to experience similar treatment. At Faringdon, especially, 
he was so savagely baited that a respectable inhabitant of the place could not help 
exclaiming: "If I had a dog which had to suffer what that man endures, I would cut 
off his head to put him out of his misery." Yet when Mr. Fox, a member of the 
Society of Friends, deeply stirred by the inhuman treatment Mr. Russell was subjected 
to, wrote to a clerical magistrate on his behalf the only answer he got was : "The 


people have as much right to take the course they do as the preacher has to preach 
in the streets." This magisterial dictum deserves to be placed on record; as a specimen 
of callous feeling and perverse thinking it would be hard to beat. If these were the 
sentiments of the magistracy no wonder the mob waxed bold and wantoned in their 
excess. Still, in spite -of mob and magistrates, Thomas Russell held on to Faringdon, 
and his tenacity had its reward. In June, 1832, Mr. Wiltshire was added to the staff 
of the mission and its borders were enlarged. Under the labours of Messrs. G. Price, 
W. Hervey, and W. Peacefull so much success was realised as to justify the mission's 
being formed into an independent circuit, and as such it stands on the Minutes for 
1837, with H. Heys, Thomas Cummin, and M. Bugden as its preachers. 

It is time to put the lights into our picture of the conditions under which Shefford 
Circuit was formed and extended, lest a wrong impression be left on the mind of the 
reader by its unrelieved sombreness. Over against the fact of the prevalence of 
persecution must be set the compensating fact that a constantly increasing number 
of adherents were won for the cause Avhose sympathy and co-operation augured well 
for still greater success to come. It would be a mistake to suppose the missionaries 
to have been men of a sad heart and rueful countenance, having no helpers, and 
conscious of fighting a losing battle. So far from that being so, they knew they were 
on the winning side, and were persuaded that opposition would gradually die down, 
and in the end die out altogether. They were men of faith ; so in Thomas Russell's 
phrase they " tugged at it," and bore persecution and privation] in good spirits as being 
part of the day's work. Even the "Vale," as they called it the Vale of the White 
Horse was for them something more than a metaphorical vale of tears. How often 
at the close of a powerful service the doxology was sung for those who, in the 
expressive phrase of the time, had been " brought in ! " Nothing cheers like com- 
panionship and belief in ultimate success ; and Shefford Circuit was succeeding and, 
consequently, the company of the faithful was being steadily enlarged. In this country, 
which John Ride and John Petty had surveyed, and Ride and Russell had prayed for 
at Ashdown, there were now, at the end of 1832, eleven missionaries at work and 
some eight hundred members in church-fellowship. As yet sparsely dotted in this 
tract of country, were cottages and farm-houses which were veritable houses of refuge 
and pilgrim-inns, where the weary and often buffeted missionary was sure of a hearty 
welcome and of the best the house could afford. These Gaiuses of the pioneer times 
who ministered out of their poverty and, in some cases, out of their comparative 
abundance, have almost as strong a claim on our remembrance as have the men to 
whom they ministered, since without them it is difficult to see how the bounds of the 
Connexion could have been widely extended in the Southern counties, or Primitive 
Methodism have rooted itself amongst the villages as it has done. We can only make 
brief mention of a few of these successors of "the well-beloved Gaius." There were such 
in Wiltshire at the generating-point of this wide-spreading evangelistic movement. 
For example, under the powerful ministry of Samuel Turner, Miss Asenah Ferris was 
converted. She discarded her fashionable attire and cast in her lot with the contemned 
Primitives. Subsequently she became the wife of Mr. Smith of Wootton Bassett. 
She and her husband became local preachers ; their house was always open for God's 




servants ; they did much in helping to build the chapel and to found and maintain 
the Day Schools afterwards established. After Mr. Smith's death in 1845 the widow 
continued her good works, and, in 1849 was married to Mr. Abraham Woodward 
of Broad Town, member of a family to whom the Primitive Methodism of Brinkworth 
Circuit owed much. 

Another Wiltshire guest-house was the home of Mr. John Davies, on the Marlborough 
Downs, where the little flocks often met for shelter and for 
worship in the time of persecution at Ramsbury and neighbouring 
places. It was at Ewin's Hill Harriet Maslin of Ramsbury gave 
her first pub,lic exhortation. She was, we are told, diligent in 
attending the five o'clock services, which were held all the year 
round, and took her turn in speaking with the rest of the new 
converts. In 1834 she came on the plan, and in 1837 became the 
devoted partner of Mr. George Wallis. 

A simple incident in the life of George Wallis, who was one 
of the gains of the Wootton Bassett revival, and, as a young man 
of twenty-one, became one of Shefford's first staff of preachers, 
brings us into Berkshire, and at once illustrates the scarcity and 
the value of these hospitable homesteads of those early days. Sometimes an incident 
like this illumines past conditions as no number of generalised statements could do. 
Like a snap-shot, true to the actuality of things, it has a vivid suggestiveness as to the 
past out of all proportion to the apparent unimportance of the incident itself at the time 
it occurred. " A few miles from Newbury there stands an old farm-house, then occupied 
by Mr. Simon Goddard, who espoused the cause of the missionaries and threw open his 
home to them. One evening Mr. George Wallis, who had been preaching at a distant 
village, made for this hospitable house, but reached it to find the inmates had all retired 
to rest. Not caring to disturb them he crept into a heap of straw for the purpose of 
passing the night. Later on came along Mr. Thomas Russell who had been unable to find 
shelter elsewhere. The family were soon roused 
by the new-comer, and the youthful missionary, 
like John following the bolder Peter, left the 
straw for more comfortable quarters." We have 
no report of the table-talk that took place on the 
morrow when the family and guests assembled 
at meal-time. Such a report is wanting to 
complete the picture ; but we may be sure the 
talk would turn on the progress of the work 
of God ; on the latest additions to the roll of 
converts ; incidents of the campaign would be 
related, and the latest novelty in persecution 

described. We can imagine how Thomas Russell would tell how some one at 
Faringdon, with a turn for calculation, had estimated that no less than two sacks 
of potatoes had been flung at the preacher and his congregation in the streets of that 
place, and we can picture the zest with which he would round off the story by the 




statement that some of the thrifty people of Faringdon had picked up and planted 
these tubers and were calling their produce " Faringdon-Russells." Our pioneers were 
not altogether devoid of the sense of humour, and many incidents happened in the 
'Thirties in the persecution-area, which would appeal to that wholesome sense, like the 
incident just given. 

In this connection respectful mention should he made of Mr. G. T. Phelps of 
Hungerford, who is one of the very small number still surviving who have sustained an 
active connection with the Church in this part of the country since the early days of 
struggle. Much might be said of the character and work of Mr. Phelps and his excellent 
partner. What is emphasised here however is the fact that for forty-eight years Mrs. 
Phelps was the light of a home whose hospitality was unceasingly and ungrudgingly 


dispensed. No wonder that, under the influence of her saintly and beneficent life, her 
children should turn out well. When she died in 1898 three of her sons were ministers 
of the gospel one of them being Rev. T. Phelps, a well-known minister of the Salisbury 
and Southampton District while her three daughters were the wives of Primitive 
Methodist preachers. One of her last utterances, disclosing what had been the bent of 
her life, was -. " Always make room for the preachers " ! 

We wet glimpses of other early befrienders of the cause : of the Alexanders of 
Ramsbury, one of whom offered his joiner's shop for the first meeting-place, which offer 
necessitated another journey to Salisbury to get it licensed ; of William Hawkin, who, 
when he was an agricultural labourer earning but six or seven shillings a week, lost his 


employment for entertaining the preachers, but he took care to keep his integrity and 
his religion, and lived to become a prosperous farmer ; of George and Thomas Waite and 
Isaac Hedges who, with several others, started for Heaven at a service in a gravel-pit 
at Hoe Benham in 1830, and became "eminent in the good cause"; of Mr. Kirby 
who invited the Primitives to Bradfield, and of Mr. Nullis of 
Ashmanstead who "became a great helper in our chapel-building 
at Burnt Hill, and whose son, Isaac, became mighty in the ministry 
with us." The reference to Bradfield is interesting because, as 
Thomas Russell asserts, from Bradfield the work opened out to 

The name of Isaac S. Nullis brings before us a remarkable per- 
sonality. His life was an intense one though, measured by years, 
it was not long. It was his companion, George Smith, who induced 
him to attend a prayer meeting in Mrs. Ann Street's cottage, Quicks 
i. s. NULLIS. Green ; and here the great " turn " in bis life was experienced. 
This humble cottage is connexionally historic and as such we have pleasure in giving 
a view of it, especially as it also shows us " Nancy " Street herself a notable figure 
of those days. Isaac Nullis and George Smith both became local preachers in the 
Reading Circuit. The latter was a useful travelling preacher for thirty-nine years 
(ob. 1897), while Isaac Nullis also toiled successfully as a home-missionary for a few 
years. He died in 1868, leaving testamentary gifts to his Church, and his remains lie 
in the graveyard opposite the cottage where he found the Saviour. There too is 
buried the mortal part of Ann Street. The " Life " of Isaac Nullis has been written 
by Mr. Jesse Herbert. It shows us a man whose course was marked by consuming 
zeal in seeking the souls of men : it also contains many instances of remarkable answers 
to prayer. Those amongst us and surely they are an increasing number to whom 
prayer is a subject of absorbing interest, who seek to investigate its achievements, its 
laws, its possibilities should keep Isaac Nullis in remembrance. His life has instruction 
for us and, it is to be feared, admonishment as well. 

In turning to Hampshire, we cannot do better than preface our account of the fierce 
persecutions our pioneers underwent in this county, by describing a journey which Hugh 
Bourne took along with Thomas Russell in September, 1832, from Shefford across the 
North Western borders of Hampshire on to Salisbury. To us the story of the advance 
of Primitive Methodism from county to county has all the interest of a moving drama, 
and so the description of this journey comes in at this point with all the appropriateness 
of an Interact, equally related as it is to what has gone before and to what it foreshadows 
as about to happen. But let us give Thomas Russell's narrative : 

" Mr. Hugh Bourne was frequently requested to pay us a visit ; but from the press 
of business and calls elsewhere he did not visit us till Monday, September 10th, 1832. 
However, his coming then was very opportune, for surely no men needed fatherly 
counsel and comfort more than we did ; persecution raged on every side, and our 
lives were often in danger. Nor can I forget his arrival at Shefford the morning* 
after our quarterly meeting. Brother Samuel West, who had come to see his friend 
[John Ride] and assist us at the quarter-day, was praying at full stretch and in the 


full glory. Faringdon and Wantage mission was then the burden of our cry, and 
many a he:irty " amen " rein through the house, when suddenly, at a quick pace, in 
walked a man with a broad-brimmed hat, all covered with dust, a brown top-coat that 
had weathered many a blast, an umbrella which had been stretched against many 
a storm, and a well-known carpet-bag. No sooner was he in than he was on his 
knees, and with loud responses he joined in our devotions. The voice was familiar to 
myself and Messrs. Ride and West ; and when we rose from our knees we gave him 
a hearty welcome, and announced him to the rest of the brethren, and most tenderly 
and affectionately did he listen to our tales of success, and those of woe about the 
persecutions then (raging, particularly in the vale of Wantage. He gave us good 
counsel, and most earnestly prayed for us, and the preachers then separated for their 
appointments. On 'Friday, September 14th, I drove Mr. Bourne into Hampshire to 
Hartbourne [Hurstbourrie?], to Squire Blunt's. I was delighted with the ease and 
freedom as well as ability with which Mr. B. conversed with the good gentleman on 
Cobbett and other authors, as he had a large and valuable library. In the evening, 
at my request, Mr. Bourne preached [in Mr. Farr's house at Bindly] from ' the Great 
White Throne,' and many felt the force of truth. The next morning I accompanied 
him fourteen miles towards Salisbury. In all the journey I found him very con- 
versable, and as we crossed the ^Hampshire hills, where the boundary-line parts it 
from Berkshire, he said : ' That might form the boundary of two circuits, and you 
might take Hampshire.' But I said, 'No, sir' : and I went on to explain that I was 
very much attached to Mr. Ride and that we wrought well together. Besides this, 
I wanted Shefford Circuit made stronger before a separation ; Mrs. Ride, too, was 
a great counsellor. We prayed by the wayside at parting when within seven miles of 
Salisbury, and I returned with redoubled resolution to my station, and was glad that in 
some measure persecution had begun to abate, and the way to open in new places."* 

This record gives us an authentic glimpse of the past. We see Hugh Bourne, as he 
crossed the Illsley Downs, manifesting the same habit of close observation of the 
natural features Avhich met his view as he had shown when he strode over Ihe twenty 
miles of wild country between Penrith and Alston Moor. No fox-hunter or general 
had a keener eye for the salient features of a landscape than he; but to him, as he 
jogged along in his chaise, these hills did not suggest sport or strategy, or even 
picturesqueness they presented themselves to him as the natural boundaries of 
circuits. We see, too, that at the time to which this incident belongs, as the result 
of Thomas Russell's and Elizabeth Smith's short tentative missions within the borders 
of the northern division of Hants in 1831-2, some useful adherents had already been 
won, that houses were available for preaching, and that guest-houses stood open 
in short, we see that a base for future labours on a larger scale had already been 
secured. As early as 1831, when Thomas Russell made his excursion into Hampshire, 
two families were won whose adhesion was of the greatest value to our Church in the 
trying days that were to come. For if persecution had by this time somewhat abated 
in the Vale of the White Horse, it was yet to gather and break in Hampshire. On 
his first visit to Linkenholt Mr. Michael Osmond showed himself very friendly, and 
united with the society that was formed, as did also his brothers Richard and Stephen, 

* Combined quotation from T. Russell's " Primitive Methodism in Berkshire," 1885, and a letter 
by him included in Walford's " Life of Hugh Bourne," vol. ii. pp. 4O3-5. 

Y 2 




and his sister afterwards Mrs. Tasker. Messrs. Richard and Michael, we are told, 
at one time rented the whole of the parish of Linkenholt, and were able to retire with 
a competence when none of the subsequent occupiers succeeded. Stephen Osmond 
entered the ministry and travelled for some years ; while Richard, after having been an 
active and efficient local preacher in the Andover 
Circuit, on his retirement from business removed 
with his family to Bath, and interested him- 
self in mission work in a neglected part of the 
city. A building was secured, and a congre- 
gation and Sunday school formed. After her 
husband's death in 1865, Mrs. Jane Grundy 
Osmond felt it a sacred duty to carry on the 
work initiated by her husband. She and her 
family liberally aided in the erection, in 1881, 
of Claremont Church and school buildings, MRS - OSMOND. 
which became Bath Second Circuit. Mrs. Osmond died December, 1892. 

Among other of the earliest converts of Thomas Russell were Mr. and Mrs. Farr 
of Bindly, in whose house Hugh Bourne preached his famous sermon on "the Great 
White Throne." No less than two hundred persons are stated to have been converted 
in that farm-kitchen. Miss Farr, who had strong mental powers and had received 
a superior education, became a local preacher, and in 1837 was married to George Price, 
one of the makers of the Brinkworth District. He it was who, in 1838, took charge 
of Shefford Circuit when John Ride moved on to Reading ; he purchased the Union 

Chapel, Newbury, which for thirty- 
eight years served the uses of the 
denomination until superseded by the 
present handsome Gothic church during 
the superintendency of Mr. Edward 
Alford. Mr. Price died suddenly in 
full harness in 1869, while his widow 
survived until 1895, dying at the 
residence of her eldest son, who was 
at the time the Steward of the Croydon 

For Hamphire the curtain rises in 
the spring of 1833 on scenes of mob- 
violence and legal oppression that throw 
a lurid light on the social and moral 
condition of that part of England in the 
'thirties. Already, since 1832, Shefford 


which Mitcheldever was the centre : 

now, at its March quarter day, 1833, it was resolved to send George Wallis and 
W. Wiltshire to begin a mission at Andover. Nothing will be gained for our 


purpose by keeping these two missions rigidly distinct, since they were contiguous 
to each other and were being pushed forward at the same time. All we can hope 
or shall attempt to do is, by samples, to convey a sufficient impression botli of the 
amount and virulence of the persecution, in its two forms, with which Shefford's 
devoted missionaries had to contend on both branches before they became circuits 
Mitcheldever in 1835, and Andover in 1837. On three successive Sundays Mr. Wallis 
visited Andover. His first service, on May 5th, was held amid a scene of great 
disturbance. On the second Sunday a godless gang broke up the service and knocked 
the preacher down. On the third he was pulled down while preaching in the market- 
place and he and his colleague were dragged through the streets by the beadle and 
the constable, while the mob, with discordant cries, struck them with besoms, sticks, 
and whatever came handy. The skirts of their coats were torn off, and there is 
a record, in the circuit books, of a grant of money for making good their sartorial loss. 
Years after, Mr. Wallis pointed out to his son the place in Old Basing where he had 
taken his stand and was thrice knocked down by a mob who trampled upon his body 
till they thought life was gone, and then ran away. Once it was his lot, with others, to 
be drenched with bullock's blood ! At Alresford, some seven miles from Winchester, 
certain of the inhabitants had in readiness against the coming of Mr. Watts, six dozen 
of rotten eggs, a tub of coal-tar, and two bundles of rods. " On his approaching the 
place where he intended to preach, they hailed him with shouts of rage and madness. 
He called at a friend's house, which was instantly beset by the mob, and to escape their 
violence he was obliged to conceal himself ; they broke the windows, and covered one of 
the room floors with eggs." Fortunately some of the persecutors left their devil's work 
to go to church ; then Mr. Watts made his escape, but was followed by numbers who 
stoned him more than a mile. Primitive Methodism has had its revenge on Alresford : 
it has planted there its first Orphanage. At another village in this same county the 
clergyman threatened to prosecute the preachers should they dare to preach in his parish. 
When, undeterred by his threats, Mr. Watts duly made his appearance, the haughty 
priest went round ordering his parishioners " to go into their houses and shut their doors 
and windows : " and they did as they were told. Further south, at Stockbridge, 
persecution was no less virulent. Here, William Fowler, a young preacher, who soon 
after finished his course with joy, was violently assailed. He and his friends were 
enmeshed in a rope flung round them and were being dragged towards the river. When 
some of those enclosed drew their clasp-knives and cut the rope, they were beaten with 
the pieces, and then pelted out of the place. At St. Mary Bourne, in order to escape 
further ill-usage, Mr. Fowler and his followers deemed it advisable to put on the smocks 
of some labouring men, and thus get away from their persecutors. 

But enough, and more than enough of such incidents as these, which, though they are 
but a few out of the many that might be given, yet revolt us by their brutality and 
weary us with their monotony, since they lack even the poor merit of the inquisitors' 
torments ingenuity. The facts are set forth, not to raise pity, except for the poor 
neglected misguided men who, by a strange perversity, abused their best friends- 
Hather are they given to show that Hampshire sorely needed the Gospel at this time, 
and that our missionaries willingly braved much, and counted not their lives dear unto 
them in the attempt to supply that need. 


But a few words must be said of the much more reprehensible attempt to set the law 
in motion against the missionaries to compromise them and their work by confounding 
them and it with the machinations of revolutionaries, at that time a quite legitimate 
reason for alarm. Perhaps the worst case of the kind that occurred in Hampshire at 
any rate the one of most notoriety was that in which Messrs. 
John Ride and Edward Bishop were the sufferers. On Tuesday, 
June 8th, 1834, the quarterly meeting was held at Mitcheldever 
and it was arranged to hold a missionary meeting at its close. As 
the cottages available for services would not accommodate the con- 
gregation expected, it was arranged that the meeting should be 
held on a piece of waste ground on which services were accustomed 
to be held. Despite the notice affixed to a neighbouring cottage 
prohibiting the meeting under legal penalties, it was agreed, after 
serioxis deliberation, to hold the meeting as arranged. The speakers 
confined themselves strictly to the subject of missions and the 

EDWARD BISlIOr. . . . . 

meeting closed in an orderly and peaceable manner. Por all this, 
shortly afterwards, "says Mr. Bishop," a summons reached us, under the hand of 
Sir Thomas Baring, Bart., of Stratton Park. This legal instrument charged John Ride 
and Edward Bishop, on the oath of Thomas Ellery, with leading and heading a riotous mob 
at Mitcheldever with being armed with bludgeons, and that they did, by force and arms, 
put His Majesty's peaceful subjects in fear that they obstructed the thoroughfare and 
that they were a nuisance. 

The sequel of the story shall be told in the words of Mr. Richard Heath, from 
whose work we have already quoted.* 

"On such a charge John Ride and Edward Bishop were cited before the 
magistrates of Winchester on July 19th, 1834. No breach of the law being 
proved against them the magistrates offered to let them go, if they would promise 
not to preach again at Mitcheldever. Refusing to do this, they were bound over 
to be tried at the Quarter Sessions, and during the twelve days they were finding 
bail, they were kept in the same prison in which the victims of 1830 had been 
confined. t I do not suppose they had any idea of the dignity of their martyrdom, 
or how really they were being associated with the sufferings of Christ. For we 
must not expect the thoughts of even the poorest among English evangelists to 
rise above the level of nineteenth century Christianity. However, no one can 
preach the Gospel of the Kingdom or sincerely pray that that Kingdom may come 
without helping to bring about a revolution of the most radical description. ' 

We may smile at, while we forgive the implied assumption that John Ride and E. Bishop 
were simple-minded evangelists who were incapable of understanding the relations and 
issues of the events in which they were leading actors. Never was there a greater 
mistake. We doubt whether even my Lord Bishop of Winchester himself was as wide 
awake to the " condition of the people question " in his diocese as was Edward Bishop. 

* " The English Peasant." Quoted ante vol. ii p. 55. 

t " The fortnight we spent in that county jail was the best portion of college life with which we 
had ever been favoured." E. Bishop. 



This is clear from his published views and from what we know of the man; and in 
far-sightedness, ' in understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do," 
in mental vigour, E. Bishop was but one of a number of men who in the wide old 
Brinkworth District laid the foundations of the Connexion 
deep and strong men like S. Turner, C. T. Harris, and many 
others who might be named. 

Connexionally as well as nationally better times came to 
Hampshire. Andover, with its missions extending to the New 
Forest and the Solent, became one of -the widest circuits 
in the Connexion and did good work. As for Winchester, 
it was long a strug